Sunday, November 27, 2022

Israel - a post-democratic state?

How should Diaspora Jews react to the new Israeli government? Some of the most important figures in the incoming government are indicted (Netanyahu) or convicted criminals (Deri, Ben Gvir). This coalition is the most right-wing in Israel's history, and there are still more hateful characters who will be in important ministries. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be prime minister, is on trial on a series of corruption charges. His wife, Sara Netanyahu, was "convicted in 2019 of misusing public funds and in 2016 for abusing public servants." Aryeh Deri, the head of the Sephardi Haredi party, Shas, was in prison for two years on bribery charges. Recently, "In a plea deal signed in January, 2022, he admitted to defrauding the state by reporting to tax authorities a falsely undervalued estimation of a Jerusalem property he sold to his brother." This makes him ineligible to be a minister in the government. Itamar Ben-Gvir, a convicted felon and Kahanist, leader of the Jewish Power party, will be the national security minister, in charge of the police, the fire service, and the Border Police.

From Noga Tarnopolsky in the Daily Beast, on the incoming Israeli government:
Netanyahu’s legal troubles have manacled him. Most leaders of Israeli political parties refuse to sit in government with an indicted criminal. The parties willing to help him form a majority coalition out of the Knesset’s 120 seats are those who believe they have no other avenue to power: the ultra-orthodox Jewish religious parties and an agglomeration of previously marginal extremist groups who have until now been rebuffed by Israel’s mainstream.
The deal offered by Netanyahu goes something like this: his partners will back a slate of “judicial reforms” that will effectively dismantle Israel’s judiciary, and Netanyahu, in turn, will reward them with real power.
This is the political jam which has brought Israel to the cusp of saluting Defense Minister Bezalel Smotrich, 42, a self-described “proud homophobe” and a segregationist who believes Jews and Arabs should not have to mingle, who aspires to impose the “the law of the Bible,” and who evaded his own military service.
Israel’s incoming justice minister has not yet been named, but neither Smotrich nor Ben Gvir are expected to be warmly received—or welcomed at all—by their cohorts among Israel’s closest allies.
Deri is rumored to covet the finance ministry, in which he'd impose upon fellow citizens the same taxes he was recently convicted of evading.
As things stand, he cannot legally be made any sort of minister. In a plea deal signed in January, 2022, he admitted to defrauding the state by reporting to tax authorities a falsely undervalued estimation of a Jerusalem property he sold to his brother. 
His appointment is certain to be challenged in court, where he is expected to lose. He has a simple answer: “The public knew everything there was to know about Netanyahu, me and the entire bloc, yet we received a large majority and the public expects us to govern,” he said on Israeli radio. So I hope they [the Supreme Court] will not interfere with this matter.”
But if it does, he warned, “it will be the government's first test of governance.”
Netanyahu, in fact, cannot form the barebones skeleton of his new government without overriding the supreme court. Without Deri or the extremists, he has no majority. With no majority, his trial proceeds ahead. The plan, according to numerous Israeli media outlets, is for the Likud, Netanyahu’s party, to install a new Knesset speaker by next week. Then they would rush legislation imposing an override act, followed by a new law permitting a minister to serve even if he is on probation from jail, as Deri is. Thanks to the override act, the supreme court would not be able to declare the new law illegal.
Israel could cease to have an independent judiciary in a matter of days– a transformation driven by indicted and convicted political criminals.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Trump's dinner with Nick Fuentes, Holocaust denier

 It's been confirmed by Axios that Trump had dinner with both Fuentes and Kanye this week.

Former President Trump dined and conversed with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday night, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Trump's direct engagement with a man labeled a "white supremacist" by the Justice Department, one week after declaring his 2024 candidacy, is likely to draw renewed outrage over the former president's embrace of extremists.

  • Fuentes, who frequently promotes racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, had been spotted with Ye at Mar-a-Lago, but reports erroneously suggested he did not have dinner with the former president.

What they're saying: "Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about," Trump said in a statement.

  • A Trump spokesman did not provide comment on additional reporting about the dinner. Fuentes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the dinner conversation told Axios that Trump "seemed very taken" with Fuentes, impressed that the 24-year-old was able to rattle off statistics and recall speeches dating back to his 2016 campaign.

  • Paraphrasing the conversation, the source said Fuentes told the president he preferred him to be "authentic," and that Trump seemed scripted and unlike himself during his recent 2024 campaign announcement speech.
  • Trump responded, “You like it better when I just speak off the cuff," the source said. Fuentes replied that he did, calling Trump an "amazing" president when he was unrestrained. "There was a lot of fawning back and forth," the source added.

Fuentes told Trump that he represented a side of Trump's base that was disappointed with his newly cautious approach, especially with what some far-right activists view as a lack of support for those charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

  • Trump didn't disagree with Fuentes, but said he has advisers who want him to read off teleprompters and be more "presidential." Notably, Trump referred to himself as a politician, which he has been loathe to do in the past.
  • Fuentes also told Trump that he would crush potential 2024 Republican rivals in a primary, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump asked for Fuentes' opinion on other candidates as well.

Trump at one point turned to Ye and said, "I really like this guy. He gets me," according to the source.

  • "To be honest, I don't believe the president knew who the hell [Fuentes] was," the source added.

See also the New York Times article on the dinner:

A strange configuration - Kanye West, Nick Fuentes, and Donald Trump and the rise of political antisemitism

Amid all the discussions now about rising antisemitism in the United States since Trump declared his candidacy in the summer of 2015, one element has not been sufficiently appreciated. We have focused on various manifestations of antisemitism that range from antisemitic graffiti and vandalism, the use of antisemitic tropes and images on social media, antisemitic attacks on Jews on social media (for example, the attacks on Jewish journalists on Twitter during the 2016 election campaign) to physical attacks on Jews (especially of Jews who stand out because of their dress), and all the way to the murders of Jews in Pittsburgh, Poway, and Jersey City.

I don't think enough focused attention and analysis has been done on the rise of political antisemitism in the US. I thought that after Trump's defeat in 2020 that it would start to fall again, but it's continued unabated in the political sphere. Trump keeps insisting that American Jews are disloyal to our true country, Israel - in contrast with the faithfulness of evangelical Christians. The nationalist populism that he ran on and continued to propagate in office opened the doors to public expression of many different kinds of bigotries, including antisemitism. Antisemitism is on its way to becoming respectable again in local and national politics. People and groups who would have been on the political fringe a dozen years ago, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, are being elected to Congress (despite the fact of the red wave that didn't come in the fall election). 

Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and anti-Black bigot, visited Mar-a-Lago this week with Kanye West. Some information about Fuentes and their visit with Trump:

Kanye West on his visit with Fuentes and conversation with Trump:
On Nick Fuentes and Trump, an article from Haaretz:

Trump Hosts Holocaust Revisionist Nick Fuentes and Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago
Fuentes and West are the latest figures with known histories of extremism and explicit antisemitic remarks to meet with Trump since he announced his 2024 presidential candidacy earlier this month

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Kanye West at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida alongside Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust revisionist who has openly questioned the number of Jews killed by the Nazis.

The meeting, which has not been confirmed by Trump, would be among his most notable associations with extremists with histories of explicit antisemitic remarks, days after declaring his 2024 presidential candidacy.

West and Fuentes’ visit comes after the rapper – universally condemned over his screed of antisemitic remarks – said he was running for president in 2024 with the assistance of Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur who recently worked for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Several media outlets further reported Trump and West had dinner together without Fuentes present, though Fuentes shared a video of him alongside West at Miami’s airport.

Fuentes has been deemed a “white supremacist” by the Justice Department, and Republican members of Congress such as Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar came under significant criticism for addressing Fuentes’ America First Political Action Committee conference in February.

In May 2020, Trump retweeted a post by “America First clips,” an internet show founded by Nick Fuentes that replaced his YouTube channel, which was banned earlier in the year for hate speech.

Fuentes, who attended the 2017 white supremacist Charlottesville rally, has cultivated a following of white supremacists known as the “Groyper Army” who seek to preserve white, European-American identity. They make up a significant number of supporters for Trump’s conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election and many were present at the January 6 insurrection. He has used his multiple platforms to push explicitly antisemitic comments, smears and conspiracies, directed at both individual Jewish figures and widespread conspiracies about the Holocaust and Jewish influence on American society.

At his speech this year while hosting Greene and Gosar, Fuentes implored the crowd to support Russian President Vladimir Putin in the immediate aftermath of his decision to invade Ukraine and said “the U.S. government has become the ‘Great Satan’ that many have called it,” echoing terminology coined by Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Fuentes then mocked mainstream media for comparing Putin to Hitler, saying “they say that’s not a good thing” before laughing and adding “I shouldn’t have said that. What other way is there to say it, of course that’s a terrible comparison” to chuckles from the crowd.

The meeting comes one week after Trump addressed the RJC, where he repeated his allegations that American Jews do not sufficiently support him given his record as president on Israel — a charge that critics largely condemn as trafficking in antisemitic tropes.

The Republican Jewish Coalition strongly condemned Green and Gosar for sharing a platform with Fuentes, who “has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust, and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories. This has absolutely no place in the Republican Party, and RJC will actively oppose anyone who associates with Nick Fuentes, AFPAC, and their ilk.” The RJC did not respond to comment requests on Trump’s association with Fuentes.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Racists and antisemites once banned by Twitter will be coming back

Elon Musk has decided that accounts once banned from Twitter because of their racism and antisemitism will once again be allowed on the site. A thread from Michael Edison Hayden, Senior Investigative Reporter and Spokesperson for the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) about people likely to reappear: David Duke, Mike Peinovich, and Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer. 

Link to start of the thread: Michael Edison Hayden on racists returning to Twitter 


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

J. K. Rowling once again reveals her hatred of trans people in her response to the Club Q murders

I loved the Harry Potter books. I've read all of them multiple time, and seen all the movies (made from the books). I identified with Harry Potter & Hermione. I found the books profound, touching, and consoling. 

And then J. K. Rowling decided to attack trans people. First she cloaked it in pseudo-rational arguments where she pretended to support trans people but was really worried that supporting trans people might injure women's rights. More recently, she's started allying herself with people on the anti-trans far right, like Matt Walsh. 

On Sunday, she "liked" a tweet condemning the massacre this weekend at Club Q in Colorado Springs. So maybe she's not such a transphobe? Don't jump to that conclusion. This is the tweet she liked, from a British group called LGB Alliance. They wrote, "We are horrified by the news of the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, and stand in solidarity with LGB people worldwide against this senseless hatred." Notice that they left out the T - for transgender. The absence of the T is intentional. They oppose trans rights. 

Two trans people were killed on Sunday - the bartender Daniel Davis Ashton, a trans man, and Kelly Loving, a trans woman. Just like the LGB Alliance, Rowling doesn't care about the lives or deaths of trans people.

Another vile transphobic account on Twitter that Rowling has "liked" is "Libs of TikTok," run by a woman named Chaya Raichik, who hates LGBT people, especially trans people. She has 1.5 million followers, and her incitement draws hateful mobs on those she attacks (for example, Drag Story telling hours at public libraries). She recently posted this screenshot.

Karen Attiah is an opinion editor at the Washington Post, and a friend of Jamal Khashoggi (who wrote for the Post); when Khashoggi was killed she campaigned against the Saudi government (which had him killed), seeking justice for him. Elon Musk, who is the new chaos agent owner of Twitter, has just allowed Kanye West back onto Twitter (he had been suspended for his antisemitic tweets). 

Attiah writes, "Elon Musk is jailbreaking another one of his white supremacist buddies" (she's quoting Kanye's first tweet after being unblocked). The photo on the right is of Kanye West. Chad Spencer responds "2022: Where we call a black man a white supremacist." Attiah then replies: "I said what I said."

What she said is correct. Kanye West and Candace Owens recently both appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "White Lives Matter" on the back. (See this Washington Post article on Owens and Kanye's turn to the racist and antisemitic far right: Candace Owens and Kanye West).

Why on earth did Rowling "like" the screenshot from Chaia Raichik? How did it even come to her notice? Because Raichik is an anti-trans inciter? Does Rowling support Kanye West's antisemitism and support of white supremacism? 

J. K. Rowling styles herself a liberal, a feminist, an antiracist, and an enemy of antisemitism. It's all a lie. She supports vicious transphobes like the LGB Alliance and Chaia Raichik, she turns a blind eye to antisemitism and racism.