Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Antisemitic postings on FB group Labour Party Supporter

I joined the Facebook group "Labour Party Supporter," which Jeremy Corbyn used to be a member of (he's not anymore, although he was a member for seven years). The group is rife with antisemitic postings, which are sometimes challenged by members of the group and other times are defended. Here are some examples (with names of posters removed):

This is the antisemitic mural by Mear One that was removed several years ago, but which came up once again recently because it was discovered that Corbyn had written a comment on it that did not note in any way how antisemitic it was. One member of the group asked "Is the Jewish State like (Russia on the USA) conducting an attack on the Labour Party?"

This is a comment posted on a discussion about the mural.

One of the admins posted a link to a blatantly antisemitic Youtube video:

This same admin Sheem Bari, identifies himself on his Facebook profile as a "campaign manager at the Labour Party." I wonder why he's still a campaign manager after posting such vile antisemitism, since the party is supposed to be kicking out its antisemitic members.

On his own page he posted some other unambiguously antisemitic material. He's a fan of David Icke.

Another member posted an FB post from George Galloway, who has been expelled from the Labour Party, and who typically said it's all about Palestine:

Another member posted from the vile Tony Greenstein. She's posted other items from his blog as well (as have other members of the group). He's also been kicked out of the Labour Party.

One of the moderators posted a statement from the Jewish Voice for Labour group, inviting people to their Monday counter-demonstration.

He also posted this question about the infamous mural:

Another member put up a blog post from Tony Greenstein, this time an attempt by Greenstein to deny Adam Bull's antisemitism and Holocaust denialism (which Bull has been suspended from Labour for).

And on and on. How did Corbyn manage to be in this group for 7 years and not notice the blatant antisemitism?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Redux: Cats at the Seder

Re-upping this post from three 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)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

"Enough is Enough": against antisemitism in the British Labour Party

Statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council:
Today, leaders of British Jewry tell Jeremy Corbyn that enough is enough. We have had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn “opposes antisemitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads. There is a repeated institutional failure to properly address Jewish concerns and to tackle antisemitism, with the Chakrabarti Report being the most glaring example of this. 
Jeremy Corbyn did not invent this form of politics, but he has had a lifetime within it, and now personifies its problems and dangers. He issues empty statements about opposing antisemitism, but does nothing to understand or address it. We conclude that he cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities.

When Jews complain about an obviously antisemitic mural in Tower Hamlets, Corbyn of course supports the artist. Hizbollah commits terrorist atrocities against Jews, but Corbyn calls them his friends and attends pro-Hizbollah rallies in London. Exactly the same goes for Hamas. Raed Salah says Jews kill Christian children to drink their blood. Corbyn opposes his extradition and invites him for tea at the House of Commons. These are not the only cases. He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly antisemitic views, but claims never to hear or read them. 
Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with antisemites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, Jews expressed sincere and profound fears as to how such politics would impact upon their wellbeing. Our concerns were never taken seriously. Three years on, the Party and British Jews are reaping the consequences. 
Routine statements against antisemitism “and all forms of racism” get nowhere near dealing with the problem, because what distinguishes antisemitism from other forms of racism is the power that Jews are alleged to hold, and how they are charged with conspiring together against what is good. This is not only historic, or about what Jeremy Corbyn did before being Party leader. It is also utterly contemporary. There is literally not a single day in which Labour Party spaces, either online or in meetings, do not repeat the same fundamental antisemitic slanders against Jews. We are told that our concerns are faked, and done at the command of Israel and/or Zionism (whatever that means); that antisemitism is merely “criticism of Israel”; that we call any and all criticism of Israel “antisemitic”; that the Rothschilds run the world; that ISIS terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis. 
Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead. They display an obsessive hatred of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news. These repeated actions do serous harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party. 
Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. 
Enough is enough. 
Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council

Jeremy Corbyn's favorite antisemites

Liam Hoare on Twitter has assembled a greatest hits list of Jeremy Corbyn's association with blatant antisemites. Jeremy Corbyn is the head of the British Labour Party, and if Labour wins the next election, he could become the Prime Minister.

The latest row about his patience with antisemites arose because of a response he made on Facebook in 2012 to an antisemitic mural that had been painted in London. I remember when the whole issue of the mural arose in 2012, but Corbyn wasn't involved then (since he wasn't the head of the Labour Party then).

In 2015, the Jewish Chronicle asked: Did Jeremy Corbyn back artist whose mural was condemned as antisemitic? They didn't receive an answer.

This is the mural and Corbyn's response in 2012:

The leaders of the British Jewish community have called for a rally at Parliament tomorrow to protest against the lax attitude towards antisemites and antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Here's the list:

Just a note: another founder of Deir Yassin Remembered is Daniel A. McGowan, who lives in Geneva, New York, and is also an antisemitic Holocaust denier. I've written about him several times on this blog: Here's an article on Corbyn's connections with Paul Eisen and DYR in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn's links to Paul Eisen.html.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Black teenagers in Philadelphia wonder: Why doesn't the world listen to them?

The world is listening to Parkland teens. Some Philly kids wonder: Why not us?

Milan Sullivan is horrified that 17 people died in a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. And she does not disagree with the teenage survivors who have stood up since the massacre, demanding action on gun violence. 
But she’s not leaving class next week for the National School Walkout, and she won’t board a bus for Washington for the March for Our Liveson March 24. Sullivan, a junior at Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker, is all for activism, but she is like a lot of her classmates: hesitating a little over this particular movement. 
For some students, it’s because they feel too removed from things that go on in suburban high schools in far-away places, or they feel numb to gun violence. Others wonder: Where was the attention during the protests over issues pressing our community, whether it be Black Lives Matter or the murder of a friend or relative? 
Politicians are going out of their way to help these kids,” Tatiana Amaya said of the Parkland activist students. “And there’s just a disconnect — when something happens in the white community, the black community is expected to support them, but people don’t stand up for the black community. The focus isn’t ‘What can we do to make black and brown kids feel safe in school?’ ” 
Amaya, Sullivan, and the other members of Raised Woke, a Mastery-Shoemaker club focused on social justice and youth engagement, wonder where the outrage is when people in predominantly black neighborhoods get shot.
They’re not alone. From Florida to Chicago, some people in marginalized communities have been asking the same question in the wake of the Parkland massacre.

“When something happens in the black community, we don’t get a lot of support,” Sullivan, 17, said. 
Or, as Kaiyah Taylor put it: “We have a lot of dying in our community, and no one is paying attention.” (Her brother’s friend was recently gunned down on her block, Taylor said, and there was no media coverage, no story about what the victim was like, no uprising to demand answers.) 
No one disputes that the mass slaughter in a matter of minutes by a teen toting an assault weapon rekindles what has been a bitterly fought and politically divisive national debate in the last two decades. But for this group of Mastery-Shoemaker students, a collection of dynamic, bright high school juniors, the issue is complicated, and a lot of it is about race. 
What would have happened if the mass shooting happened in Philadelphia, not suburban Parkland? the students asked during a recent wide-ranging conversation. Would the outrage have been as sharp? As national? They couldn’t imagine any celebrities coming to survivors’ aid with cash and acclaim
“We do care,” said Ahmad Abdullah, 17, “but we have to take care of ourselves.” 
Why do black shooters tend to be portrayed as thugs and white shooters quickly labeled as mentally ill? the teens wanted to know. 
And frankly, there’s also an element of desensitization, said Nathaniel Brown. “We’re numb when it comes to gun violence,” said Brown. “We see it every day. Honestly, you can only cry but so much.” 
Around the Mastery-Shoemaker conference room where the students gathered, everyone nodded. Then the talk turned to President Trump’s call to arm teachers as a way to ward off school shooters. Kyra Lewis is OK with arming “certain people — like security guards, or the deans.” 
But most students shared Perla Espinal’s view. “School is a safe place — we don’t want guns in school,” said Espinal, 16. “That’s promoting gun violence,” said Amaya. “It shouldn’t be that you have to have guns to feel safe.”

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Lebanon War and "Off Our Backs" in summer 1982

While engaging in the egotistical practice of looking myself up on Google, I found a link to a letter I wrote in 1982 to the radical feminist journal Off Our Backs, on the perennial subject of Israel and the Palestinians, written after the beginning of the Lebanon War in the summer of 1982. I am pleased to discover that my political opinions have not changed at all.

I wrote then, and still believe:

"To say it as shortly as possible, I believe that both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism are legitimate movements, and for either to think they can eliminate the other is unrealistic."

To the left of my letter is one written by Sarah Schulman, who is now a strong supporter of the BDS movement. This letter, written when she was 24 (I was 25 at the time) shows the roots of her anti-Zionism. She does, however, argues that we should not "fall into ahistorical rhetoric ranging from 'Zionism is racism'' to 'Anti-Zionism is Anti-semitism.'"

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Ben Faulding on Farrakhan and antisemitism in the Black community

Good article in the Forward by Ben Faulding, an African American Jew, about Louis Farrakhan:
Louis Farrakhan is more than just a bigot, a homophobe, a misogynist or an anti-Semite. Explaining who he is in these terms reduces the true nature of his evil. He is an exploiter. He exploits the economic depression, resentment and anger of blacks to leverage his own power and status. He uses the language of liberation and the language of demagoguery in tandem. He is a poverty pimp. No civilized discourse or progress can move forward with him, or anybody who associates with him.
Deepening the controversy was the unambiguous support or non-reaction from many Women’s March collaborators, including Linda Sarsour. She doubled down on her support of Mallory, completely dismissing the complaints of detractors. 
Even Jewish advocacy groups such as Jewish Voice For Peace and Jews For Racial And Economic Justice, who both recently collaborated with Sarsour on a forum on anti-Semitism, failed to respond. 
This failure reflects a more general blindness to anti-Semitism on the left. Indeed, a backlash to the backlash ensued, focused on Farrakhan’s lack of power (as opposed to say, the anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia). But Farrakhan’s bigotry is not powerless. Black anti-Semitism is a real thing, something the Jewish community in Crown Heights has been subjected to on a daily basis for decades.  
Even as a black Jew, I myself have not been immune to harassment on the streets. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m a man, and a large one at that. There have been muggings, stabbings, sexual assaults, break ins and murders. I know two people who have suffered permanent long lasting brain injuries as a result of these attacks.  
I cannot draw a direct connection between Farrakhan’s rhetoric and any of these incidents, but there has been a similar non-reaction from sectors who have taken upon themselves the mantle of fighting anti-Semitism. 
There were no marches of solidarity four years ago when a man walked into the basement of the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters and stabbed a rabbinical student in the head. Nobody changed their Facebook profile picture in response. We were on our own; as always. 
We can talk about the legacy of racism and how that affects anti-Semitism. But what that doesn’t change is that cynical goons like Farrakhan have exploited that legacy and increased the divisions for their own agenda — and we feel it. 
So, when I hear leftists talk about anti-Semitic incidents only in the context of white supremacy and Trump, I get a bit frustrated. 
JFREJ claims to be the fighters of anti-Semitism. But they only condemn anti-Semitism that fits into a narrow window that they have approved, no matter how much it comes in conflict with other people’s lived experiences. One has to wonder if JFREJ is fighting anti-Semitism, or just white supremacy? 
I don’t even think that Tamika D. Mallory is anti-Semitic. But I have seen person after person condemn the alt-right associations of prominent politicians and the Trump administration and remain silent about Farrakhan anti-Semitism or any other anti-Semitism emanating from the left. 
Their silence sends a message. It’s a message that reaffirms what many have suspected all along: The left doesn’t care about Jews and anti-Semitism. They care about their enemies and allyship is only important to them when it is convenient. Any leftists who fails to condemn Farrakhan and others who traffic in anti-Semitism is no comrade of mine. 

Tamika Mallory's Public Statement on Saviour's Day and the Nation of Islam

Tamika Mallory issued a public statement today:
Activist Tamika Mallory has faced backlash in recent weeks for attending Saviour’s Day, an annual gathering held by the Nation of Islam in Chicago last month. In an exclusive op-ed, the Women’s March co-chair addresses the criticism, her connection to the event and her commitment to building an “intersectional movement.” 
I proudly serve as a leader for one of the largest women’s advocacy organizations in the world. For that reason, my recent presence at the Nation of Islam’s Saviour’s Day convocation troubled some of the very people who I have fought for and worked alongside for most of my life.  
I have heard the pain and concerns of my LGBTQAI siblings, my Jewish friends and Black women (including those who do and those who don’t check off either of those other boxes.) I affirm the validity of those feelings, and as I continue to grow and learn as both an activist and as a woman, I will continue to grapple with the complicated nature of working across ideological lines and the question of how to do so without causing harm to vulnerable people.
I didn’t expect my presence at Saviour’s Day to lead anyone to question my beliefs, especially considering that I have been going to this event regularly for over 30 years. I first went with my parents when I was just a little girl, and would begin attending on my own after my son’s father was murdered nearly 17 years ago. In that most difficult period of my life, it was the women of the Nation of Islam who supported me and I have always held them close to my heart for that reason. 
I can see why, on a personal basis, you would have warm feelings for the Nation of Islam. You grew up in the movement, your parents were involved with it, and women in the movement supported you at a very difficult and tragic point in her life. If that was all you had to say about it, without trying in any way to evade the criticism of the NOI's antisemitism and homophobia, I would be much less likely to want to criticize you myself. People who are now strong supporters of women's rights, LGBT people, and Jews can come from intolerant communities whose significant flaws they now understand, and which they still maintain personal ties to.

But nonetheless, I'm surprised that you didn't expect anyone to question you for going to Saviour's Day. Weren't you aware, previous to this year, that Mr. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have been accused of antisemitism, homophobia, and transphobia for many years? Did you not recognize on you own, after associating with people who fight racism, antisemitism, and homophobia, that the Nation has very significant problems? Are you being disingenuous here?
I am the same woman who helped to build an intersectional movement that fights for the rights of all people and stands against hatred and discrimination of all forms. I am the same person today that I was before Saviour’s Day, which begs the question – why are my beliefs being questioned now? 
Perhaps we're questioning you now because we have finally realized how close you are to the NOI, and that you have never dissociated yourself from Louis Farrakhan.
 I was raised in activism and believe that as historically oppressed people, Blacks, Jews, Muslims and all people must stand together to fight racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. I believe that LGBTQAI people are not an abomination or a creation of man, but simply people, and that religion is not to be used as a tool to abuse, divide, harm, bully or intimidate. 
I believe you - but why can't you simply say that Mr. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam violate your current principles? Why can't you denounce them for supporting antisemitism and homophobia?
Where my people are is where I must also be. I go into difficult spaces. I attend meetings with police and legislators—the very folks so much of my protest has been directed towards. I’ve partnered and sat with countless groups, activists, religious leaders and institutions over the past 20 years. I’ve worked in prisons as well as with present and former gang members. 
Yes, you've protested the police or legislators. Even though you have worked with them, you have criticized their racist actions.
It is impossible for me to agree with every statement or share every viewpoint of the many people who I have worked with or will work with in the future. As I do not wish to be held responsible for the words of others when my own history shows that I stand in opposition to them, I also do not think it is fair to question anyone who works with me, who supports my work and who is a member of this movement because of the ways that I may have fallen short here or in any other instance. 
But you haven't haven't opposed Mr. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. You've stood in solidarity with them. You haven't called them out.
My fellow Women’s March leaders believe that we can be the bridge to connect different groups in the name of our shared liberation. We don’t just step into difficult spaces, we create new ones. I am guided by the loving principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., though I have fallen short of them at times. And it is with the belief that “non-violence seeks to win friendship and understanding” and “non-violence seeks to defeat injustice, not people” that we organized a march on January 21, 2017, that 5 million people participated in worldwide; and we have been guided by those values the whole way through. 
How can you now be the bridge for Jews or lesbians (I'm a lesbian) to work with other groups "in the name of our shared liberation"?
It is my intention to walk the tradition of Dr. Dorothy Height, successor to Mary McLeod Bethune as President of the National Council of Negro Women. In 1995, she faced criticism for participating in the Million Man March, which was organized by the Nation of Islam. Financial support was withheld from her organization, and there were attempts to bully and intimidate her. Nevertheless, she stood strong and proudly addressed the massive crowd of Black people who gathered on the National Mall. Her first words? “I am here because you are here.” 
I can't speak to Dr. Height's actions, because I don't know what her relationship was to Farrakhan or NOI.
I also take cues from my mentor, Hazel N. Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP, who has brought together Muslims, Blacks and Jewish people and clergy from all denominations. Her office and her home are open to gang members, teen mothers and formerly incarcerated people as well. 
And how does Ms. Dukes think about Louis Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam? From what I know of the historical work of the NAACP, they do not in any way endorse antisemitism or hatred of LGBT people. 
Coalition work is not easy, and these women have operated from a place of authentic love for all people. My work requires an operational unity that is sometimes extremely painful and uncomfortable, even for me. But I push forward even when I am personally conflicted because our people are more important. 
– Tamika D. Mallory, Freedom Fighter
The problem is that your actions have led me to question whether you "operate from a place of authentic love for all people."  I'm not speaking to what's in your heart. We can never know what is really in another person's heart - but we can see how people speak and act. And your actions do not convince me that you have "love for all people." If you truly want to be a leader for all people, you need to pull away from Mr. Farrakhan and NOI, not by denying your history and personal connection to people in NOI, but by clearly stating your disagreement with the antisemitism, homophobia, and transphobia of the movement.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Louis Farrakhan and leaders of the Women's March

Update - see the link to a couple of other good articles on the Third Narrative site:

Jake Tapper today sent a series of tweets on the annual "Saviours' Day" address of Louis Farrakhan, the antisemitic and racist leader of the Nation of Islam. He spoke on February 25. It turns out that one of the co-chairs of the Women's March, Tamika Mallory, attended the speech and even received a shout-out from Farrakhan from the stage. Two other Women's March leaders, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, "have also praised and appeared at events with Farrakhan."

If we're going to call out the antisemitism of Donald Trump's alt-right fan club (which he gives a pass to), we should also call out the antisemitism that leaders of the Women's March are giving a pass to. I don't regret having gone to the Women's March last year (here in Ithaca), but after reading quite a bit about Linda Sarsour (especially her support for BDS) and now these two other Women's March leaders, I find it shocking that their relationship with Farrakhan has not been seriously questioned, much less criticized. I'm glad that Jake Tapper, who works for CNN, has brought this out in the open to a larger audience than the Jewish press (Tablet and the Forward).

Some of the lowlights of Farrakhan's speech:
In his opening remarks, he insisted that he is not an anti-Semite, but rather a truth teller, adding that the “powerful Jews are my enemy.” Apparently to illustrate that point, he remarked that when evangelist Billy Graham met with President Nixon, Graham warned Nixon about Jewish power, and told the President he was popular with Jewish voters only because he supported Israel.

In typical fashion, Farrakhan devoted a lot of time to talking about doing the work of Jesus by denouncing the Jews, saying that Jesus called the Jews children of the devil. He continued: “Jesus two thousand years ago never taught black people, he never taught in Egypt, he never taught in Africa, he only taught in Palestine. He was not sent to black people. He was sent to the Jews, the House of Israel to warn them of the end of their civilization.” 
Farrakhan views himself as the modern-day Jesus coming to warn “the good Jews,” telling the audience that “Satan is going down. Farrakhan has pulled the cover off the eyes of the Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through. You good Jews better separate because the satanic ones will take you to hell with them because that’s where they are headed.” 
Farrakhan also promoted the anti-Semitic conspiracy trope that Jews control the government and Hollywood. He told the crowd that the “white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews,” and went on to say that Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany are controlled by Jews who “take on the culture, the money, the business” of those countries. 
He told the audience, “the Jews have control over those agencies of government,” particularly the FBI, and in life “when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.” He claimed that Jewish people are the ones responsible for the “degenerate behavior in Hollywood turning men into women and women into men,” and that Jews are “the mother and father of apartheid.” He also promoted the “Pot Plot” conspiracy that the Jews and the US government are manipulating strains of marijuana to feminize black men. “God did not create man to lay with man. But you are being chemically programmed against your nature, you don’t know it.” 
He even mentioned the Women’s March, saying that while he thought the event was a good thing, women need to learn how to cook so their husbands don’t become obese. Tamika Mallory, one of the March organizers, was in the audience, and got a special shout-out from Farrakhan. Mallory posted two Instagram photos from the event, which Carmen Perez, another Women’s March organizer, commented on with “raise the roof” emojis.
More on the speech and Mallory's connection to Farrakhan (from CNN):
Women's March co-chair Tamika Mallory was in attendance, CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out on Twitter after she shared an image from the event on Instagram. 
Mallory has posted on social media about Farrakhan in the past -- on February 21, 2016, she posted an image of him from a stage at the Joe Louis Arena with the caption: "The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan just stepped to the mic for #SD16DET... I'm super ready for this message! #JUSTICEORELSE #ForTheLoveOfFlint."Mallory did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment on Sunday's speech. 
The Nation of Islam is a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its "deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric," and its primary teaching promotes black racial superiority.