Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Rally today in Ithaca to protest ICE arrest

An undocumented immigrant was arrested by ICE yesterday at the corner of Cascadilla and Fourth Street, not far from my house in Ithaca, and an emergency rally was held this afternoon to protest his arrest. Ithaca declared itself a sanctuary city in February. 
The Ithaca Common Council in February passed an ordinance to amend Chapter 215 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code titled “Human Rights” to add Article VI, titled “Sanctuary City.” The ordinance means Ithaca police officers and other officials will not ask a person’s immigration status unless the crime is directly linked to the person’s status.
This was apparently the first time in years that ICE had conducted an immigration raid in the city.

Among the speakers at the rally were Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, alderperson Ducson Nguyen and Tompkins County Legislator Anna Kelles, D-Ithaca.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rasmea Odeh, convicted terrorist, pleads guilty to immigration fraud

In the recent annual conference of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist, was one of the featured speakers in the closing plenary session. She pleased guilty today of immigration fraud and she will be stripped of her American citizenship and deported. As many others have noted, JVP disgraced itself by having Odeh speak, thereby giving support to a person who murdered two young Israeli men in 1969.

As Legal Insurrection reports, Rasmea Odeh acknowledged in her guilty plea that she lied on her visa application and her application for naturalization, asserting that she had never been charged or convicted of any crime, when in fact she had been arrested and convicted in Israel of taking part in a bomb attack on the Supersol supermarket on Agron St. in Jerusalem, which killed two young men. The attack occurred in 1969 and she was convicted in 1970. The two young men, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, were students at the Hebrew University at the time.
At the time of the bombing and conviction in Israel, Rasmea was a military member of the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Rasmea was so important to the group that Leila Khalid, the first female airplane hijacker, formed to Rasmea Odeh Brigade to try to free her. Rasmea also was on the list of prisoners whose release was demanded by the Black September terrorists who took Israeli hostages at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Yet Rasmea’s supporters would have you believe she was just an innocent political activist. 
Rasmea didn’t serve her life sentences in Israel, however. In 1979 she was released in a prisoner exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon. She made her way to Lebanon, then Jordan, then to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, when she lied on her visa application by denying any prior convictions or imprisonment, or being a member of a terrorist group. 
Rasmea again lied on her naturalization papers, denying that she “EVER” (caps and bold on application) was convicted or imprisoned. She also falsely stated that she never was a member of a terrorist group or was involved in terrorism....
After an initial conviction in November 2014 for obtaining naturalization unlawfully, Rasmea was given a new trial so a psychologist could testify on her behalf that Rasmea falsely answered the immigration questions because she was suffering from PTSD as a result of alleged Israeli torture. That claim was ludicrous on its face, but it was enough to earn her a new trial. That new trial was supposed to take place in May 2017.

Instead of taking the case to trial again, and obviously fearing a lengthy prison sentence, Rasmea accepted a plea deal. While Rasmea’s supporters claim the deal was a victory because it would keep her out of jail, in fact is almost identical to the plea deal Rasmea was offered and rejected in 2014.
The following is an excerpt from the plea agreement, as posted by Legal Insurrection on Scribd (
Defendant Admits That the Following Facts Are True:

In 1969, Defendant Rasmieh Odeh was arrested and charged by an Israeli Military Court for participation in placing two bombs. One bomb had been placed in a supermarket. The other had been placed at the British Consulate. In 1970, Defendant Odeh was convicted of the charges and sentenced to life imprisonment, although she was released in 1979 after having served approximately ten years. 
In December 1994, Defendant Rasmieh Odeh submitted an application for United States Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, Department of State form 230. Question 21 of the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration required Odeh to list all places she had "lived for six months or longer since reaching the age of 16." Defendant Odeh's full response falsely stated that she had lived in Amman, Jordan, from 1948 onward, thereby intentionally omitting the fact that following her release from prison she had lived in Lebanon for approximately three years. 
Question 33 of the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration asked whether Defendant Odeh ever had been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, or of two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentences were five years or more imprisonment. Defendant Odeh falsely checked the box marked "No." 
Question 31 of the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration asked if Defendant Odeh had ever been "arrested, convicted, or ever been in a prison[.]" 
Defendant Odeh falsely checked the box marked ''No." 
On June 4, 2004, defendant Odeh filed an application for naturalization (Form N-400) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to afford her the status of a United States citizen. On November 3, 2004, an immigration officer interviewed Defendant Odeh regarding her naturalization application at the USCIS office in Detroit, Michigan. In defendant's naturalization application defendant made the following material false statements, which she reiterated and reaffirmed during her naturalization interview: 
1. Defendant falsely stated that she had never been arrested, cited or detained by any law enforcement officer or military officer. 
2. Defendant falsely stated that she had never been charged with committing any crime or offense. 
3. Defendant falsely stated that she had never been convicted of a crime or offense. 
4. Defendant falsely stated that she had never been in jail or prison. 
5. Defendant falsely stated that she had never given false or misleading information to any U.S. government official while applying for any immigration benefit or to prevent deportation, exclusion or removal. 
At the time she made the false statements, Defendant knew the statements were false. Defendant also admits that all of these false statements were material, in that they had a natural tendency to affect the decision of the State Department and USCIS. She made the false statements intentionally and not as a result of any mistake, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other psychological issue or condition or for any innocent reason, and notwithstanding any other statement or testimony Defendant Odeh may have made at any other time regarding those answers. At the time she made the false statements, Defendant knew that it was unlawful for her to provide false information to the United States Department of State and to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in connection with her application for immigration Visa and her application for naturalization.  
On December 9, 2004, defendant was sworn in as a United States citizen in an oath ceremony conducted by the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. 
Defendant procured her citizenship by virtue of the false statements, because she would not have been granted citizenship had she revealed the truth.

Elisha Wiesel: My father was a witness, and now I will be a witness

A moving statement by Elisha Wiesel, the son of Elie Wiesel, when he went on the March of the Living this year: My father was a witness, and now I will be a witness.
My father never forgot. The things he saw stayed with him all the days of his life. He lived to speak of them to me, and to my children. My father was a witness.

He was a witness to the worst atrocity that man has ever unleashed on fellow man. And he was a witness who believed that to acknowledge the suffering of another—and to have them feel less alone—was an imperative for every human being. He spoke for victims around the world: Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur. The thought that genocides could occur in the wake of the Holocaust haunted him.

But my father was a witness to more than the Holocaust, he was a witness to the Jewish lives in Eastern Europe which it had claimed. He was a witness to his parents’ beliefs and their traditions and their values, some of which continued even in this place, even in that time: the father and son saving crusts of bread for each other, the Rabbis condemning God at trial and then praying the evening prayer....

I will be a witness. I am here today with my first cousins Steve and Sydney and we are witnesses that we are standing in the place where my father and mother’s families were sent to die simply because they were Jews, packed like animals for the slaughter onto the train while their neighbors watched.

And I am a witness to my children who brought so much joy to their grandfather, to my son in whom my father’s gentle soul lives on, and to my daughter, exactly nine years old today, whose soul throws off the brilliance of a thousand suns. Her name Tziporah bears witness to a little girl of the same age, my father’s sister, who was sent to the flames here 73 years ago.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Holocaust in the New York Times, 1942-43

From the Elder of Ziyon blog: The Holocaust in the New York Times, 1942-43.

This is part of an article from August 27, 1943, p. 7:

What shocks me the most is how much was already known in summer of 1943.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beware of false information from the "Real Farmacy" website & Facebook page

I've noticed an increasing number of my Facebook friends posting stories from I advise you to be skeptical of anything published on this site.

Simply from looking at the first few stories, it's clear it's an anti-vaccine site that is spreading the lie that vaccines cause autism (they don't). It frequently posts from an FB page called March Against Monsanto which spreads anti-vaccine stories claiming the link between vaccines and autism. (See this one for example -

This site also posts fake cancer cures, including one that claims that apricot seeds cure cancer ( Don't try this at home - apricot kernels cause cyanide poisoning (see

According to an article on the website of the European Food Safety Authority (,
"Eating more than three small raw apricot kernels, or less than half of one large kernel, in a serving can exceed safe levels. Toddlers consuming even one small apricot kernel risk being over the safe level. 
"A naturally-occurring compound called amygdalin is present in apricot kernels and converts to cyanide after eating. Cyanide poisoning can cause nausea, fever, headaches, insomnia, thirst, lethargy, nervousness, joint and muscle various aches and pains, and falling blood pressure. In extreme cases it is fatal."
This is not a reliable website.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Tulsi Gabbard

If you haven't been following the news about Tulsi Gabbard, you should.

The Selective Peace Movement in Ithaca, New York

For the last six years of the Syrian civil war, there has never been an antiwar demonstration in Ithaca about the war. No one has protested Assad's barrel bombs, the destruction of east Aleppo, the Russian support for the Assad regime in destroying Syria - nothing. No demonstrations against the attempt of ISIS in Iraq to exterminate the Yezidis, the sexual enslavement of Yezidi women and girls, the destruction of historic antiquities. No one has gone out into the streets of Ithaca and protested the inaction of the United States in the face of the mass murder of half a million Syrians, and the forced homelessness of half the Syrian population.

In the past year there has developed an array of groups to welcome Syrian and other refugees to Ithaca, which is highly commendable, and friends of mine have been very active in the local refugee assistance groups.

But now, finally, I have just received a notice of an antiwar demonstration planned for Tuesday night at Cornell University, calling for "Hands off Syria!"

And is this demonstration calling for the Russian army and air force to leave Syria? Is it calling for Assad to go into exile and stop massacring his own people with ruthless air assaults, including the use of poison gas, both Sarin and chlorine? Is it calling for ISIS to withdraw from the towns and cities it has occupied?

No, this demonstration has been called ONLY against the US bombing yesterday of the Shayrat air base, the place from which the Syrian bombers left to drop Sarin on a village in the Idlib governate.

I really cannot express how angry I am about this. If the people who organized this demonstration really cared about the people of Syria and the array of murderers and oppressors they have been trying to survive since 2011 when their peaceful uprising began, they would have been in the streets long ago. Their silence until now speaks for itself.

HANDS OFF Syria! Emergency Mobilization Against War With Syria
Hosted by Cornell Welcomes Refugees and Amnesty International at Cornell University  
Tuesday, April 11 at 7 PM - 8 PM  
Ho Plaza, Cornell University Donald Trump’s recent missile attack on Assad regime targets is an act of war. The US government now intends to form an “international coalition” to achieve regime change, a course of events frighteningly similar to those that kicked off the illegal invasion of Iraq. Further military intervention will only fuel the Trump/Pence regime’s larger “America First” project of refugee bans, indiscriminate drone strikes, and domestic state terror. Gather with us on Ho Plaza to say: HANDS OFF SYRIA!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

More medieval cats (Dr. Karl Shuker)

Courtesy of an article on snail-cats in medieval manuscripts by Dr. Karl Shuker, here are three examples.

This first is from Horae ad Usum Parisiensemf 187r (15th century, in Latin). The left-hand image is of the entire page, and on the right below are two enlargements of the creature.

The next image is "a close-up of the snail-cat in f 70v of the Bibliothèque Mazarine's MS 62, NT Épîtres de Saint Paul. "

On this manuscript (by Dr. Shuker):
(originally the personal library of Cardinal Mazarin, the celebrated Italian cardinal and diplomat who served as Chief Minister to the French monarchy from 1642 until his death in 1661, the Bibliothèque Mazarine is the oldest public library in France). As its title suggests, this manuscript contains the Epistles of St Paul from the New Testament, written in the Vulgate Latin translation. It consists of 149 folios, dates from the final quarter of the 14th Century, and was originally owned by the Convent of the Minimes in the village of Nigeon, located on the hill of Chaillot, near Paris.

The image below is from
"Maastricht Hours as MS [Manuscript] Stowe 17. Written in Latin (using Gothic script), but with a calendar and final prayers in French, it was produced during the first quarter of the 14th Century in Liège, the Netherlands, probably for a noblewoman, who may be "represented as a kneeling female figure in several places throughout the manuscript" (Dr. Shuker)

Redux: Cats at the Seder

Re-upping this post from two years ago:

The Jewish Studies Library at Oxford has posted a charming article about depictions of cats at Pesach seders in medieval manuscripts. Here are some of these delightful images.

Forli Siddur, Italy, 1383 (London, British Library, MS Add. 26968, fol. 119v). 

Second Nuremberg Haggadah, Ashkenaz, 1460s
(Jerusalem, Schocken Library, MS 24087, fol. 3v)

From the Oxford Jewish Studies Library:
In some medieval miniatures of the Seder feast, feline creatures appear under the table at the feet of the celebrating family. 
What do these animals do at such an occasion? 
The Pesahim tractate of the Babylonian Talmud discusses at length what to do if a mouse runs into the searched house with a bread crumb in its mouth (bPes 10b). The question is if the house has to be searched again or not. 
In the Second Nuremberg Haggadah, the cat itself comments on its task: “Behold, I bite the mouse, lest he eat the grain” (הנני נושך בעכבר פן יאכל את הבר). Another image on the same folio depicts a man pouring the content of a bowl into a big vessel. The caption says: “One hides the leaven and the grain, lest the mouse drag it away.” Thus it seems that cats are “invited” to catch mice which might bring in some leavened bread crumbs to the searched and already ritually clean house.
Prayer book, Italian rite, 15th century (London, British Library, MS Or. 11924, fol. 153v)

Sister Haggadah, Catalonia (Barcelona), 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 14th century 
(London, British Library, MS Or. 2884, fol. 18r)

For those who thought Hillary Clinton was the warhawk

The United States launched a military strike on Syrian government targets in retaliation for their chemical weapon attack on civilians earlier in the week, CNN is told. 
On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles. 
The strikes are the first direct military action the US has taken against the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's six-year civil war and represent a substantial escalation of the US' military campaign in the region, which could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war. The US began launching airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama as part of its coalition campaign against ISIS, but has only targeted the terrorist group and not Syrian government forces.
Preparations were apparent earlier tonight:
U.S. appears to be on the verge of Syria missile strike: Military strike would be in response to nerve gas attack that killed scores of civilians 
With two destroyers armed with cruise missiles positioned in the eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. appeared on the verge of launching a strike against the Syrian military in retaliation for the suspected chemical attack earlier this week.

Preparations for the attack came in the middle of a high-stakes summit between President Trump and China’s President Xi at the Florida White House.

Cruise missiles are unmanned aircraft which carry a 1,000-pound warhead. They fly close to the ground below enemy air defenses, guided to their targets by GPS satellites.

Mr. Trump is the second president to be on the brink of military action against the Assad regime.

“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” then-President Obama said in 2012.

And after a sarin gas attack in 2013 killed more than 1,400 Syrians, Mr. Obama prepared for airstrikes.

“The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use,” he said.

But Mr. Obama backed down from his threat after Assad promised to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons, a promise this week’s attack suggests the dictator did not keep.

That was nearly four years ago, before Russia had intervened in Syria on the side of the regime. If President Trump gives the order to strike this time, it will be carried out under the noses of the Russian military.

So which is it? Did we inform the Russians or not?

Wisdom from Jill Stein:

Monday, April 03, 2017

In Hungary, Sebastian Gorka Backed an Anti-Semitic Militia. Now can we say he's an antisemite?

Now we know that Sebastian Gorka really is an antisemite: Sebastian Gorka Backed Anti-Semitic Militia.
As a Hungarian political leader in 2007, Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, publicly supported a violent racist and anti-Semitic paramilitary militia that was later banned as a threat to minorities by multiple court rulings.

In a video obtained by the Forward of an August 2007 television appearance by Gorka, the future White House senior aide explicitly affirms his party’s and his support for the black-vested Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) — a group later condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an “essentially racist” legal order.

Asked directly on the TV interview program if he supports the move by Jobbik, a far-right anti-Semitic party, to establish the militia, Gorka, appearing as a leader of his own newly formed party, replies immediately, “That is so.” The Guard, Gorka explains, is a response to “a big societal need.”

Hungary’s official military, he stressed, “is sick, and totally reflects the state of Hungarian society…. This country cannot defend itself.” 
During the 11-minute interview, which aired on Hungary’s Echo TV, Gorka dismissed concerns expressed by the Jewish community, and in particular fears that the Guard provoked among Hungarian Holocaust survivors. As is often the case in Hungary, the interviewer refers to Holocaust survivors obliquely, as “people who experienced 1944” — when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps — or as those who experienced “the Arrow Cross regime.”

Many such people, the interviewer noted, “are saying now is the time to leave Hungary. So in effect [the establishment of the Hungarian Guard] is facilitating the flaring-up of anti-Semitism?”

“This is a tool,” Gorka replied. “This type of accusation is the very useful tool of a certain political class.”
And who might those people be? The Jews, I presume.
The Guard was well known for its members’ anti-Semitism. Members often attended memorial ceremonies for World War II-era Hungarian fascists. In a 2008 speech, István Dósa, who served in the Guard as a high-ranking captain, referred to Jews as “Zionist rats” and as “locusts” while also discussing “Zionist-Bolshevik genocide” and calling Hungarian Jews “nation-destroyers.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Antisemitism and self-exculpation at the University of Illinois at Chicago

A denunciation of the antisemitic posters found at the University of Illinois at Chicago has just been posted to Mondoweiss, of all places: "Regarding the anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim posters on UIC’s campus."

If this was intended to reassure Jewish students and faculty at UIC it's hard to imagine that placing this statement at Mondoweiss would have that effect. I haven't found it placed in any other online media. Hence, I don't think that Jews are actually the audience (except for far left anti-Zionist Jews).

In my opinion, this statement is mostly intended to prove how pure the authors of the statement are of antisemitism - even though there is antisemitism in the pro-Palestinian movement, which its leaders hardly ever acknowledge (and sometimes spread themselves), and both the pro-Palestinian movement and some parts of the Black Lives Matter movement make statements calling for the dismantling of the state of Israel, which I regard as antisemitic. It's also intended to portray themselves as equal victims of these posters - even the headline to the article grabs the attention away from the explicitly anti-Jewish nature of the posters.

It's also remarkable that the statement says nothing about supporting Jewish students or faculty at UIC, or Jews in the city of Chicago. This also says to me that the main interest is to distance themselves from the flyers, rather than stand in actual solidarity with Jews.

[On March 15, 2017, the top leaders of the university, including the Chancellor and Provost, denounced the first poster, which appeared several days before the next four, with these words: "Today, anti-Semitic posters were found on campus that defame, insult and negatively portray Jewish members of our campus community. Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community. Acts that invoke hatred or violence toward members of our community will not be tolerated on our campus." See also an article on the Algemeiner website, which expresses the views of some Jewish students - End Jewish Privilege Fliers Distributed at Illinois University Have Students Up in Arms].

That said, I believe them. I don't think people in the pro-Palestinian movement or Black Lives Matter are responsible for these posters. As the BLM statement that I published yesterday says, "We’ve noticed a disturbing new trend where people have been using language from social justice circles to hide their racist agenda." (I found the BLM statement more to the point and less involved in self-exculpation). I find it far more likely that NeoNazis are cloaking their antisemitism in pseudo pro-Palestinian language.

This is the statement:
On March 16, a series of flyers were posted on University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) campus that exploit social justice issues to spread anti-Semitic views. First and foremost, as units on campus that work at the forefront of UIC’s commitment to diversity and social justice, we condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness or any forms of hatred, phobia, or dehumanization. 
Secondly, the damaging and hurtful nature of these posters is that they seek to malign and divide some of the very groups that are fighting injustice and xenophobia in the first place. They erroneously depict the groups “Black Lives Matter” and “We are Muslims” as authors of the anti-Semitic hateful flyers. No specific group takes credit but hashtags are added to suggest authorship of the incendiary flyers by Black and Muslim/Arab organizations. If real groups authored these flyers, why not take credit? If they did not want to be associated, why incriminate their movements? It makes no sense. Moreover, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is not even the # most commonly used by either the national or Chicago chapter, neither of which know anything about the origin of these flyers. 
Many of us either work with or have students involved with Chicago’s Black Lives Matter, Palestine solidarity and Muslim organizations on campus and in the city. These groups would never circulate anti-semitic or hateful literature like this. It is antithetical to their mission and work. These fake posters are consistent with a long history whereby hate groups have cited marginalized communities as authors of hate speech to smear them and incite mistrust between them. They serve the goals of both provoking anti-Semitic hatred and justifying the targeting of Palestine solidarity and Black Lives Matter movements, wrongly indicting them as purveyors of hate. 
We stand united against hatred and discrimination against all communities. 
We condemn these anti-Semitic assaults as well as the divisive suggestion that Black and Muslim students are the source of this racism. 
We disavow any attempt to use the painful realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the Holocaust as fodder for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Blackness. 
We will not allow this or any incident to pit one of our communities against the other.
 The signers of the statement are:

Chair of the Department of Philosophy
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans (CCSAA)
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People and Allies
Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education, College of Education
Disability Resource Center
Gender and Sexuality Center
Gender and Women’s Studies Program
Germanic Studies Department
Global Asian Studies Program
Great Cities Institute
Hispanic and Italian Studies Department
Head of the Department of English
Honors College
Institute for the Humanities
Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE)
Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
International Studies Program
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
Jewish Studies Program
Latin American and Latino Studies Program
Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES) Program
Middle East and Muslim Societies Cluster
Moving Image Arts Minor
Museum and Exhibition Studies Program
Native American Support Program
Office of the Dean of Students
Office of Undergraduate Research
Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center
Religious Studies Program
School of Art & Art History
School of Literatures, Cultural Studies & Linguistics
School of Theatre and Music
Social Foundations of Education Program
Social Justice Initiative
UIC United Faculty (UICUF)
Women’s Leadership and Resource Center

[Update - I just read an article in the online Forward about this denunciation - - but there's nothing about how the reporter received the statement or where he found it].

Further update - other places where the statement has appeared:

From the Arab American Center at UIC - a much more robust statement, issued on March 16:
March 16, 2017 
Yesterday, fliers were distributed around campus targeting the Jewish population on our campus. This incident, coupled with the proliferation of anti-Semitic statements and attacks on Jewish community centers, graveyards, and synagogues is a reminder that white supremacy remains a powerful force and impacts our campus. 
We fear that the unleashing of racist and fascist projects on a national scale has helped to legitimize such attacks against the Jewish population, as well as those against Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, Arab, and Muslim people. These realities make it more urgent than ever to boldly condemn anti-Semitism and to affirm, in speech and practice, a safe and welcoming campus free of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of racism and dehumanization. 
We believe that our well-being as a campus community depends on refusing to tolerate violence and hatred, reclaiming safety, and building mutually supportive communities.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Black Lives Matter in Chicago denounces antisemitic posters at University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicagoist reports that Black Lives Matter in Chicago has denounced the antisemitic posters and stated that they have nothing to do with them (even though some of them have the hashtag "Black Lives Matter" on them). I'm appreciative of this, and it confirms that the posters don't come from a left-wing source.
Kofi Ademola, an activist with Black Lives Matter Chicago, denounced the flyers as racist and said they misrepresent the BLM movement. "We’ve noticed a disturbing new trend where people have been using language from social justice circles to hide their racist agenda," Ademola said in part in a statement to sent to Chicagoist. "These posters placed all over UIC’s campus are just another example of such an occurrence... What their saying and how they’re framing their assertions are divisive, inflammatory and based in falsehoods."

The statement from Black Lives Matter reads in full:
"We’ve noticed a disturbing new trend where people have been using language from social justice circles to hide their racist agenda. These posters placed all over UIC’s campus are just another example of such an occurrence. These anonymous racist tactics are manipulative, and they’ve used logical fallacies in attempts to fool people into believing their rhetoric is valid. When we closely examine what they’re saying and implying, it’s easier to discern the flaws in their arguments. What their saying and how they’re framing their assertions are divisive, inflammatory and based in falsehoods. For example, by creating a false category and calling it “Jewish privilege” then comparing it to the familiar term “White privilege” they hope that this false association legitimizes their bigoted beliefs.
They’re also trying to use BLM to make their claims seem true. It is widely known that BLM supports Palestinians in their struggle for liberation. We often compare our similar situations dealing with police violence and State sanctioned oppression. However, being pro Palestine doesn’t make you anti-Semitic and we don’t condone or endorse any anti-Jewish ideology. We demand accountability to the specific governments, systems of oppression, and organizations that carry out injustices and human rights violations. We do not use broad sweeping generalizations to attack groups of people. After the election of Trump, America has seen a rise in hate crimes perpetrated against marginalized communities ranging from ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion and immigration status. What we’ve also seen develop is stronger alliances of intersectionality between these same marginalized communities. We stand in solidarity with folx who fight for justice and work towards freeing all people from the social constructs of oppression, including but not limited to anti-Blackness, heteronormative patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, capitalism, and imperialism."
I would have also appreciated if they had included antisemitism/anti-Jewish ideology in their list of different kinds of oppression, but I guess they thought they had it covered earlier in the paragraph.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Antisemitic posters at the University of Illinois at Chicago

In the last week, five different types of antisemitic posters have been put up around the University of Illinois at Chicago. Antisemitic, white supremacist, and racist posters have appeared at many colleges and universities around the country since September 2016, as documented by the Anti-Defamation League. They have counted 104 incidents since September, with 63 occurring since January 2017.

Images of the posters from the Facebook page of Eva Zeltser; updated article from the Jerusalem Post: Posters comparing Gaza to Auschwitz spread on Illinois campus.

So who created and put up the posters at UIC this week?

Number 1 -

This one was posted last week, and is obsessed with so-called "Jewish privilege."

Number 2 -

This continues the theme of "Jewish privilege" and applies it to admissions at elite universities. The fact that the percentage of Jews at many elite universities is higher than the Jewish percentage of the general population (about 2%) really bothers right-wing Neo-Nazis or racist types like David Duke and Ron Unz. This article from two years ago by David Duke, White Privilege or Jewish Privilege: The Ultimate Racism in America gives an exhaustive argument about how this proves that there's some kind of Jewish conspiracy to admit a ton of unqualified Jewish applicants to Harvard (here's the same article on Duke's website). (Ignoring the indisputable fact that there was an actual Jewish quota at Harvard to limit the number of Jews beginning in the 1920s and lasting several decades - at least Unz recognizes that fact). 

Number 3 -

This poster argues that Steve Salaita was "unhired" from UIC because a rich Jewish donor pressured the school to get rid of him. This accusation was certainly thrown around by left-wing supporters at the time that Salaita was offered, and then unoffered the job.

Number 4 -

This is straight up Holocaust denial, making the annoying and untrue argument that people are forbidden to question whether the Holocaust occurred. This enables Holocaust deniers to put themselves forward as martyrs for free speech. This argument is very characteristic of the Neo-Nazi right.

Number 5 -

And here we have an antisemitic and anti-Zionist poster all rolled up in one. It makes use of usually far left-wing claims that Gaza is a concentration camp and that the Zionists are just as bad as the Nazis. For an article claiming that Gaza is a huge concentration camp, see this one from Mondoweiss in 2014. This particular article clearly states, however, that the author is not comparing Gaza to a death camp. This article from 2007, by Khalid Ameyreh, does however compare Gaza to Auschwitz.

Notice that there is an ideological contradiction between posters #4 and #5. Number #4 complains that Holocaust deniers aren't allowed to "ask their questions" about the Holocaust (implying that it didn't occur), while Number #5 admits that the Holocaust (or at least the killings at Auschwitz) happened. 

So who created these posters? People from the far left (#3 and #5) or from the far right (#1, #2, and #4)? My guess is the posters were created by a person or people on the far right who used left-wing themes in two of the posters in an attempt to co-opt left-wing pro-Palestinian supporters whom they think would also be open to antisemitic ideas.

P.S. I wonder if it's possible that these posters were created by people at the Daily Stormer? See this article by "Weev" Auernheimer, boasting about how he managed to send an antisemitic poster to thousands of printers across the country. I wrote about this last year - You can see the poster both at the Weev article and my post.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

More evidence of Stephen Bannon's fascist tendencies

Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, recently spoke approvingly of the ideas of an anti-Semitic French intellectual who was sentenced to life in prison for cooperating with the Nazis during World War II. In an article on Bannon's interactions with European right-wing nationalists who want to break apart the European Union,Politico reported last week that Bannon has "expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports confirmed by Politico.".....
But Maurras was more than a nationalist. He was an infamous anti-Semite, whose anti-Jewish views were central to his outlook. From 1908 to 1944, Maurras edited the anti-Semitic paper L'Action Francaise, the organ of an eponymous movement that was anti-democratic and pro-monarchy.... Maurras spent years writing anti-Semitic articles. He referred to the French government, known as the Third Republic, as "the Jew State, the Masonic State, the immigrant State."...
At the end of the war, Maurras was sentenced to life in prison for complicity with the Nazis. He reportedly called his conviction "Dreyfus' revenge." Due to his failing health, he was released from prison shortly before his death in 1952.
According to Politico, Bannon approvingly cited Maurras' distinction between what the French philosopher called the "real country" of the people and the "legal country" led by government officials. Maurras put Jews in the latter category, according to Brown, and referred to all Jews as foreigners.
Bannon is one of Trump's most influential advisers, and political observers see his hand behind some of the administration's most controversial moves, including Trump's ban on immigration from a handful of Muslim-majority countries and the White House's inexplicable decision to not mention Jewish victims in a statement on International Holocaust Memorial Day. Maurras tried to bring down democracy and international institutions; today European leaders fear Bannon is aiming for the same.

Friday, March 17, 2017

George Soros on "When Hate Surges"

George Soros has just published an excellent essay in the New York Times, When Hate Surges, fiercely attacking Trump's assault on immigrants. He writes, "I am an immigrant and an American citizen, and, as a philanthropist, have supported migrants all over the world for more than 30 years."
[T]argeting immigrants and minorities with false and prejudicial rhetoric, as Mr. Trump has done during the campaign and in the early weeks of his presidency, has spurred a surge in hate acts against them. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that hate incidents reported in the first few weeks following Mr. Trump’s victory were at levels normally seen over a six-month period. No community appears safe from this rash of hate — with reports like school bullying against Muslim children, stories of Latinos being harassed on the street and told to “go back to your country,” attacks on blacks and gays, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. This is a country that prides itself on neighbors looking out for one another. In Donald Trump’s America, we are increasingly at one another’s throats.
Soros has provided $10 million to "provide legal and social services to victims of hate crimes, to encourage local organizations across the country to do the same and to propose improvements and new ideas." 

The essay ends with these words:
Having survived the Nazi persecution of Jews in Hungary, I escaped from Soviet occupation at age 17 and made my way first to Britain and then to America. This is not the America that attracted me. I have seen the damage done when societies succumb to the fear of the 'other.' And I will do all I can to help preserve the openness, inclusiveness and diversity that represent our greatest strength.

Norman Manea on Mircea Eliade in his essay "Happy Guilt"

Norman Manea published an important article about Mircea Eliade, "Happy Guilt," in the August 5, 1991 edition of the New Republic. Unfortunately, the article is no longer available in the journal's online archive. I just read it in his collection of essays, The Fifth Impossibility: Essays on Exile and Language (Yale University Press, 2012). Norman Manea is a Romanian writer, now living in the United States, and teaching at Bard College. He was born in the Romanian province of Bukovina in 1936, and when he was five years old, he and his family were deported to a concentration camp in Transnistria, a part of Ukraine that the Nazis handed over to Romania during the Second World War. He survived and returned to Romania after the war and he lived there under the Communist regime until 1986, when he left first for Germany and then for the United States, in 1988.  

Charles Simic, in a review of Manea's memoir, The Hooligan's Return, in the New York Review of Books (October 23, 2003) describes what happened to the Jews of Bukovina:
In October 1941 the entire Jewish population of the province was deported to labor camps in Transnistria, a place that previously did not exist on any map or in any geography book. It was a newly carved region in Ukraine, north of the Black Sea and Odessa that extended as far as the rivers Dniester and Bug. The Romanian army of Marshal Ion Antonescu, which participated in the Nazi attack on Russia, was given the land as spoils of that campaign, and Antonescu soon after set aside the region to be the graveyard for Romanian Jews. The order for expulsion in 1941 required the Jews to hand in immediately to the National Bank all the gold, currency, shares, diamonds, and precious stones they owned and to report on the same day to the train station with their hand luggage. Everything else was to be left behind and was promptly pillaged. 
Manea was five years old when he, his parents, and grandparents made the journey in sealed freight train cars. Back in Romania, Premier Antonescu declared:
Our nation has not known a more favorable moment in its history…. I am in favor of forced migration. I do not care whether we shall go down in history as barbarians. The Roman Empire committed many barbaric acts and yet it was the greatest political establishment the world has ever seen.
Out of 200,000 Romanian Jews who were sent to Transnistria half perished, Manea’s grandparents among them. There were no gas chambers and crematoria; people were either shot, hanged, slaughtered, burned, starved to death, or died as the consequence of infectious diseases and the weakening of the body. Nazis were not involved since Romania was not an occupied country. This was an operation carried out by the local Romanian police and gendarmerie. Antonescu was an ally of the Iron Guard, the extreme rightwing nationalist movement of the 1930s, whose ideological father was Nae Ionescu, a professor of philosophy at the University of Bucharest much admired by Eliade.
Manea was, therefore, a child when Eliade was working in the Romanian embassies in London and Lisbon.

"Happy Guilt" is described by David Mikics in his review of The Fifth Impossibility for for the New Republic in 2012:
The troubled heart of Manea’s book is his well-known essay “Happy Guilt” (first published in The New Republic in 1991), an examination of the pro-fascist sympathies of the great religious scholar, fiction-writer and memoirist Mircea Eliade. Although Eliade disdained Hitler’s anti-Semitism in 1934, by 1937 he had changed his tune, asking, “Can the Romanian nation end its life … ravaged by poverty and syphilis, overrun by Jews and torn apart by foreigners?” In 1939 he wrote that “The Poles’ resistance in Warsaw is Jewish resistance. Only yids are capable of blackmail by putting women and children in the front line”; and he concluded that “rather than a Romania again invaded by kikes, it would be better to have a German protectorate.” Eliade went from village to village campaigning for the Iron Guard; during the war he spent much of his time in Portugal, where he became an admirer of the right-wing dictator Salazar. After 1945, Eliade was clear in his disapproval of both Marxism and Fascism, but he avoided the details of his own past complicity (as did Cioran, who once wrote that if he had been a Jew he would have committed suicide). 
Manea rightly points out the shocking contrast between Eliade’s violent fascist prejudices and “the free play and dreamy compassion of his writing.” The genial, open-minded professor of the history of religion at the University of Chicago, where Eliade taught from the 1960s on, was hard to reconcile with the champion of the Iron Guard. But there were also reasons why Eliade, given his mystical bent, might have been attracted to fascism’s promise of “sudden and magical history” (in the words of Robert Ellwood, Eliade’s student). Eliade was attuned to the appearance of the sacred within the profane, seemingly secular modern world; fascism, he seems to have thought, was a potential source of sacredness. Mihail Sebastian loved and admired Eliade in the 1930s (along with Eliade’s teacher, the die-hard anti-Semite Nae Ionesco—no relation to the playwright). But Sebastian was bewildered by the gulf between himself and Eliade: the fearful Jew faced with an anti-Semitic tidal wave and the exultant advocate of a new, Christian-fascist Romania. Manea writes that Eliade’s attraction to men in uniform, to “the compensations of vitality, mystification, martyrdom, and all manner of excess,” baffled Sebastian.

When Manea’s essay about Eliade’s fascism was published in Romania in 1992, it sparked a campaign of hatred against Manea. Eliade, whose rehabilitation began during the latter half of the Ceauşescu era, had become a hero to Romanians, an intellectual saint. Interviewed on Romanian television programs, Manea was asked about the “Jewish cultural mafia”; he was called a fundamentalist, a witch-hunter. The grotesque nationalism and anti-Semitism that has sometimes sprouted in post-Communist Romania, visible in the Eliade affair, the official honoring of Antonescu, and elsewhere, is a grab for identity in the confusion and the loneliness of the newly chaotic, newly capitalist era.
Manea's article is not just about Eliade's affiliation with the Iron Guard and Romanian fascism more broadly conceived, but about how Eliade never publicly acknowledged or recanted his actions during the fascist era. He contrasts Eliade with Andrei Sakharov, who in his youth admired Stalin and admitted that in his memoirs.
When he is called a Nazi or an anti-Semite, when he meets the stony weight of accusations that simplify the story of his life, Eliade’s tendency to withdraw is even more marked. To be sure, there is dignity in silence, and there is delicacy, not just cunning, in evasion: but in silence and in evasion there is also much that is reprehensible. To retract one’s former beliefs, to denounce the horrors, to disclose the mechanisms of mystification, to assume the burden of guilt—probably few are sufficiently clear-eyed and courageous for this. But it is precisely those few who do have the courage for such a confrontation with the past who justify the stature of the intellectual. 
 In order to be truly separated from the errors of the past, one must acknowledge them. Is not honesty, in the end, the mortal enemy of totalitarianism? And is not conscience the proof of one’s distance from the forces of corruption, from totalitarian ideology? In his Memoirs, Andrei Sakharov confessed without embarrassment his youthful admiration for Stalin. The honesty of that admission was precisely the honesty that enabled that great scientist and humanist to achieve a profound understanding of the nature of the communist system, and to become its unyielding critic.
The whole essay is worth reading, both for the information it gives on Eliade's beliefs and actions in the 1930s and 1940s, and for its analysis of the consequences of Eliade's lack of honesty about his past.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Nationwide

I'm glad to see this.

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Nationwide
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order Wednesday evening blocking President Trump’s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, dealing a political blow to the White House and signaling that proponents of the ban face a long and risky legal battle ahead.

The ruling was the second frustrating defeat for Mr. Trump’s travel ban, after a federal court in Seattle halted an earlier version of the executive order last month. Mr. Trump responded to that setback with fury, lashing out at the judiciary before ultimately abandoning the order.

He issued a new and narrower travel ban on March 6, with the aim of pre-empting new lawsuits by abandoning some of the most contentious elements of the first version.

But Mr. Trump evidently failed in that goal: Democratic states and nonprofit groups that work with immigrants and refugees raced into court to attack the updated order, alleging that it was a thinly veiled version of the ban on Muslim migration that he had pledged to enact last year, as a presidential candidate.
Continue reading the main story

Administration lawyers argued in multiple courts on Wednesday that the president was merely exercising his national security powers and that no element of the executive order, as written, could be construed as a religious test for travelers.

But in the lawsuit brought by Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, Judge Derrick K. Watson appeared skeptical of the government’s claim that past comments by Mr. Trump and his allies had no bearing on the case.

“Are you saying we close our eyes to the sequence of statements before this?” Judge Watson asked in a hearing Wednesday before he ruled against the administration.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't post antisemitic or Holocaust-denying comments

A reminder for commenters - I don't publish antisemitic or Holocaust denying comments. Someone just tried to post two comments to a post from 2012 - British prisoners of war were imprisoned at Auschwitz and were visited by the Red Cross. They went went through the Holocaust denial litany. I also don't debate Holocaust deniers, or reply to their false evidence and lack of ability to reason. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

[Update] White nationalism in the House of Representatives


Josh Marshall at TPM also has some sharp words about Steve King:
King frequently speaks in the language of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who speak of "white genocide" and America being overrun by non-whites. 
Consider this tweet from just last September.
"Cultural suicide by demographic transformation"—This is literally the kind of talk you can read from Richard Spencer and Stormfront any day of the week. Note also that King is there with Wilders, the rightist, racist Dutch member of parliament and Frauke Petry, the rightist, nationalist leader of Germany's Alternative for Germany party. These are the parties Trump's top advisor Steve Bannon wants to help loft to power and ally with in a rightist, north Atlantic political movement. 
This isn't just one "controversial" member of Congress. King is part of American white nationalist, far-right political movement. That's not a softer way to say "racist." He's also a racist. But there are plenty of racists who have more conventional politics. He's part of a movement. So is Bannon. So is Trump
Beginning of original post: 
This is the tweet that King retweeted:
The Voice of Europe Twitter follows Steve King, and he in turn follows Voice of Europe.

Another quote from Geert Wilders on the "Voice of Europe" Facebook page:

And a quote from Marine Le Pen:

Not coincidentally, Steve King follows Le Pen on Twitter:

Another quote from Marine Le Pen on the Voice of Europe Facebook page:

And who does that remind us of?

Donald Trump on October 13, 2016.

He spoke about the "global special interests," the "global power structure," and Hillary Clinton's connection to them:
We've seen this first hand in the WikiLeaks documents, in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.
Global special interests:
This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged.