I am very sad today. What Jewish lad could not love Sarah Silverman? She’s Jewish, has that swarthy attractiveness that bores into our hearts, is proud of being an atheist Jew, has a smart and sassy mouth, and is a good liberal. And she’s funny. And it’s not just secular Jews like me who are smitten: I believe that Dan Dennett also has a case of Silvermanitis—he follows her on Twitter, and has even spoken to her.
Yes, some of her humor is edgy, and sometimes too edgy, to the point of being cringeworthy. But by and large her humor is thoughtful and absorbing. PLUS she did a great acting job in the so-so movie I Smile Back, playing a depressive alcoholic/drug addict. Her depression is real, too, and also appeals to those of us who have Black Dog tendencies. (Jews tend to be on the “half empty” side: who wouldn’t when we’ve been fleeing pogroms and anti-Semitism for two millennia?)
And so I loved The Divine Sarah—until yesterday, when I saw her 3-minute Instagram video (click on screenshot below) where she expresses support of BDS—a support totally ignorant of what BDS really stands for. In fact, she makes so many errors and misguided assertions here that the only real truth in her words is when she says, “I am talking out of my ass.”
Let’s “unpack” her claims.
First of all, the BDS movement isn’t just criticizing the Israeli government for the “occupation”; BDS wants an end to Israel as the country it is now. They do this by calling for a “right of return” of Palestinians who left Israel during the first war (often at the behest of Arab states!) and also for the return of all their descendants as well. That would turn into Israel into a majority-Palestinian state, and you know what that means. A bloodbath, for one thing. No, BDS is not fooling around when its advocates cry, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Many Israelis and Jews throughout the world have criticized the Israeli government; why do you think that Netanyahu is on thin ice? But BDS is not just calling for reform of the Israeli government; it’s calling for its elimination. If Silverman doesn’t know that, then she’s butt-ignorant, and it pains me to say that.
Further, BDS doesn’t just want to boycott the government, it wants to boycott Israeli academics, who are seen as complicit with the government. People like me are not, for example, supposed to go to academic conferences in Israel. Screw that.
It goes even further: BDS calls for a boycott of Israeli artists, writers, singers, and so on—and I presume Israeli comedians like Silverman. That, again, is a boycott not of a government, but of Israelis themselves: Jews. You don’t have to think too hard to see the anti-Semitism inherent in BDS.
Silverman makes an oblique reference to Israel as practicing apartheid. That, too, is arrant nonsense. Arabs in Israel live with all the rights of citizens, including the right to be judges, sit in the Knesset, and so on. If there is truly an apartheid territory in that area, it’s Palestine, where Jews are not allowed to live and are vilified constantly by the government. And the Palestinian government, either by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, is brutal, repressive, and unempathic towards its people. Gays and apostates are guilty of capital crimes; women are oppressed. There is no freedom of speech. Does Sarah know that? Certainly the American Far Left should, but they ignore it.
Silverman’s claim that the boycotts against South Africa (in which I participated!) were effective is a dubious claim. Grania used to tell me, and she lived in South Africa then, that it was the moral suasion, not the boycott, that finally ended apartheid. I’m not a historian, so I will just drop that here and move on.
As for the West Bank, one can make a valid claim that, under international law, Israelis have a right to that territory, which was occupied by Jordan until 1967. At that time, when Israel reclaimed it after the war, Israel still was willing to give up the West Bank to Palestinians in return for peace. The Palestinians refused. Now, however, it would be suicide to turn the West Bank over to the Palestinians, who would simply use it and its height to fire rockets at vital parts of Israel that are very close. And don’t forget that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza to placate world opinion, turning that area and its resources completely over to the Palestinians. That didn’t work, either: Hamas is using Gaza as a convenient platform to fire rockets into southern Israel and launch terror attacks.
At any rate, Silverman should know better than to spout this nonsense. She appears to know nothing about BDS or the history of Israel, and yet she makes videos like this. I could attribute her palaver to the possibility that she might be high, for she surely looks to be in a bit of other-consciousness, but I’ll take her words seriously. Sarah, if you want to discuss your claims, give me a call. 🙂
Abbas Ghassemi is a “teaching professor” of chemical engineering at the relatively new campus of The University of California at Merced. He’s also a nasty piece of work: the most blatant form of anti-Semite who, between June and December, tweeted the most shopworn stereotypes about Jews on his 18-month-old Twitter account. His activities, now under investigation—though I contend they shouldn’t be—are recounted in the Times of Israel (below; click on screenshot), the Jewish News of Northern California(JNNC) and The San Francisco Chronicle (paywalled).
A teaching professor in the UC Merced School of Engineering is the owner of a Twitter account that had a pattern of antisemitic posts, J. [JNNC] has discovered. The content was described by the Anti-Defamation League as “repulsive” and promoting “antisemitic tropes.”
On June 14, Abbas Ghassemi tweeted “… reality bites!!!!!!” along with a photo of a “Zionist brain” with labels such as “frontal money lobe,” “Holocaust memory centre” and “world domination lobe.” That same image can be found on the website “Jew World Order,” which peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories.
On Dec. 8, in response to Joe Biden’s election win, Ghassemi retweeted another Twitter user’s post and commented, “Surprise, surprise!! The entire system in America is controlled by [the] Zionist. Change of president is just a surface polish, change of veneer. Same trash different pile!”
Many of Ghassemi’s tweets used “IsraHell” in place of “Israel.”
On Dec. 13, he retweeted something and added the comment, “the Zionists and IsraHell interest have embedded themselves in every component of the American system, media, banking, policy, commerce … just a veneer of serving US interest and population — everyone pretends that is the case.”
Ghassemi tweeted similar posts about Zionists and Israel controlling certain components of the United States another eight times between October and December.
He deleted his account after JNNC made inquiries, though a few of his tweets got captured. A particularly invidious one is below:
Antisemitic tweets by @ucmerced Professor Abbas Ghassemi include a brain diagram with "Holocaust Memory Centre" and "Frontal Money Lobe", and a Magen David as a blood-soaked pentagram in cover photo.
The whole thing. This is about as stereotyped as you can get.
Yes, the stuff is absolutely repugnant. In response, the Chancellor and Provost of his university wrote an open letter to the community decrying the hatred of the account (Ghassemi wasn’t named) and saying that an investigation has been started. An excerpt from the letter:
The opinions presented in this Twitter account do not represent UC Merced or the University of California. They were abhorrent and repugnant to us and to many of our colleagues and neighbors; they were harmful to our university, our students, and our years of work to build an inclusive and welcoming community.
The Twitter account, now deleted, was called to our attention by the media. We have now confirmed the account was in fact associated with a member of our faculty. The professor’s dean subsequently emailed faculty and staff in the school on Dec. 23 calling the tweets “reprehensible” and affirming that they in no way represent UC Merced. We have called upon the dean and department chair to work with the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel to conduct an inquiry into potential violations of our standards, the UC Faculty Code of Conduct or other policies of the university, to determine what consequences are appropriate.
We have heard from some students who have raised concerns about this faculty member’s online statements about their heritage. These concerns will be addressed through the Offices of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
We are also directing the Office of the Associate Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to develop programming for the spring semester that addresses free speech, hate speech and anti-Semitism in academia and promotes ways to challenge discriminatory insinuations when and wherever they emerge within the university community.
Ghassemi’s tweets almost certainly violated Twitter’s “hate speech” rules, and his account would have been deleted. He’s also been criticized by the Anti-Defamation league. All that is legal. What may not be legal, and to my mind violates Ghassemi’s First Amendment rights (remember, Merced is a public university) is to conduct a university investigation. Unless there’s evidence that Ghassemi broke other university rules—and I can’t imagine what rules would prohibit him from speaking as a private citizen on social media—he has the right to say whatever he wants in public. Twitter may shut him down, but he could bawl his anti-Semitic drivel on the state capitol steps in Sacramento, for all I care, and he’d have the right to do that.
As for the putative “programming” that the University will develop that “challenges discriminatory insinuations,” well, that comes perilously close to violating Ghassemi’s First Amendment right as well. (He’s apparently retained a lawyer.)
Should the University have decried his speech as “abhorrent and repugnant”? I don’t think so. If Ghassemi pulled the same stunt at the University of Chicago, the response from the administration would almost surely be, “Professors have the right to say whatever they want in the public sphere.” Period. The University should not be in the business of decrying “hate speech” publicly, as that’s a slippery slope that could lead to their decrying debatable things as well, like criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement. As our Kalven Report dictates, the University of Chicago should make public pronouncements on politics only when they deal with issues that immediately deal with the running of the University.
Look, I’m a secular Jew and have a soft spot for the Jewish people (though not the religion). I’m always accused of being a Zionist, and I suppose that’s true as I support the state of Israel existing as it is (though not necessarily all the settlements). But as far as anti-Semitic “hate speech” goes, bring it on. We can fight back with counter-speech, as as long as the haters don’t try to incite immediate and predictable violence, what they have to say is allowed. As is the speech of Professor Ghassemi, who should not be punished by the University. The students can (and should) avoid the knucklehead, or contest his speech in every appropriate venue. But he shouldn’t be punished officially.
What interests me about this is the lack of coverage of Ghassemi’s activities. Jewish and Israeli papers have covered him, as have the local papers. But you won’t find it mentioned in liberal media like the New York Times, Washington Post, or of course the HuffPost. Anti-semitism is not something they usually report on, for the Left is imbued with it, though they call it “anti-Zionism.” (This is why Bari Weiss had to leave the NYT.) But imagine the coverage if Ghassemi posted anti-Black or anti-Hispanic racism as nasty as that which heaped on the Jews. It would be a national scandal!
In the end, Anti-Semitism is one thing, free speech another. If the latter permits the former, then so be it. We’re in no danger of gas chambers in America, and one of the best defenses against anti-Semitism is to allow its purveyors to out themselves, and then fight back—with words.
Here’s a poll, which I’ll try just to roll out our new polling plug-in:
I haven’t been a big booster of of James Lindsay since he announced he was voting for Trump, but since he’s done good work before (his book with Helen Pluckrose on the intellectual origins of critical theory is a must-read), and because I don’t erase people just because they vote for morons, I want to highlight his latest essay on his New Discourses website (click on screenshot to read). It is in fact a good analysis of the dilemma Wokesters face when confronted with “the Jewish question”, though, unfortunately, the essay is more than twice as long as it needs to be.
What is the problem? It’s how to regard the Jews if you’re Woke. Are they white? Where do they fit in the hierarchy of oppression that’s a leading tenet of Critical Theory? After all, Jews have been historically oppressed, and even today are demonized not just in the Middle East, but are the most frequent victims of ethnic or religious group “hate crimes” (on a per capita basis) in America. They get attacked regularly in France. And many Jews aren’t even “white”, whether you go by genetics, pigmentation, or historical victimization.
So we have a group of high achievers, who were historically oppressed and are still marginalized by many, but who are also seen by the woke and many on the Left as oppressors, and de facto as white people who must check their privilege since they’ve benefitted from their “white privilege”. (Some chowderheads have tried to classify Ashkenazi Jews as “white” and Sephardic Jews as “people of color”, but that’s a ridiculous exercise that will go nowhere).
The dilemma of how to regard Jews been resolved by ignoring their historical oppression and the attacks on them that still occur in the West, and considering them identical to whites regarded as universal oppressors. In fact, it’s even worse because Jews are associated with Israel, which itself is seen as “colonialist”, so all Jews carry the taint of that as well. The upshot is that Jews appear to have risen to the top of the oppression scale (i.e., the least oppressed), despite the undeniable fact of their oppression for two millennia. The problem that Lindsay outlines that it’s hard to justify this placement using Critical Race Theory itself.
A few quotes from Lindsay:
Under Critical Race Theory, many Jews are Theorized as having been granted and to some degree embraced—as a matter of effectively indisputable fact if not explicitly in both cases—the status of “whiteness” in contemporary American (and sometimes European) society. This would imply that under Critical Race Theory, Jews have an intolerable privilege they need to check. So demands the new “successor” ideology Weiss warns about in her Tablet piece.
Placing aside the obvious complication that not all Jews are white by any reasonable definition (which therefore may not have anything to do with Critical Race Theory’s definitions), there’s a huge problem with this formulation that every Jewish reader of this essay will immediately realize. Jews have quite the incredible history of incredible oppression, including imperial destruction, diaspora, enslavement, and a literal genocide in the Holocaust. This set of horrors tended to follow a familiar pattern as well, which we now name “anti-Semitism.” That pattern is that Jews are made out to be a group that stands by its own claim as separate from broader society in some significant way and yet finds a way to gain significant privilege, eventually to the point of usurping control of the institutions that shape society. We would be remiss to avoid pointing out that assigning “whiteness” to Jews repeats the opening act of this tragic play.
The uniquely Jewish combination of a long history of terrible oppression of a people that isn’t just (at least partly) fair-skinned but also highly successful in what the Theorists would deem a “white” milieu is, in fact, completely intolerable to Critical Race Theory. The Theory distrusts Jewish success as such and, as with everything it analyzes, believes it must have something to do with having been granted access to the privileges of whiteness—illegitimately, by betrayal, and at the expense of blacks. It would then, in due course, demand that (“white”) Jews accept and atone of their whiteness by the familiar process: recognize it in themselves, acknowledge their de facto complicity in “white supremacy,” critique their own unwitting participation therein, and then submit to and promote the Critical Race Theory worldview in both ideology and deed, which takes the form of their brand of “anti-racist” social activism—for life. This, however, requires asking Jews to deny both their history and what makes them Jews in the first place.
The crux of the problem:
Adherents to Critical Race Theory, for all their claims upon sophistication in analyzing group standing in society and its subtle meanings in terms of power, do not possess the conceptual resources needed to deal with historically oppressed white people—unless they’re fat, disabled, maybe gay (that’s complicated now), or trans, none of which would have anything to do with them being Jewish in any case. Critical Race Theory therefore places Jewish people into a very dangerous spot within their Theory: they are a group that has tremendous privilege they don’t deserve who also have an apparently ironclad excuse not to “do the work” of dismantling their own whiteness.
Below: its effect on college students. Many Jewish students have experienced pretty severe opprobrium, always accused of being boosters of Israel, even when they aren’t or don’t think about it. The inevitable association with “colonialist” Israel (anti-Zionism) is one way that Woke anti-Semites use to alleviate their cognitive dissonance. Here’s a quote from a Tablet essay by Bari Weiss:
“It’s hard to overstate how suffocating this worldview is to specifically Jewish college students,” Blake Flayton, a progressive Jewish student at GW, wrote me recently. “We don’t fit into ‘oppressor’ or ‘oppressed’ categories. We are both privileged and marginalized, protected by those in power and yet targeted by the same racist lunatics as those who target people of color. The hatred we experience on campus has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s because Jews defy anti-racist ideology simply by existing. So it’s not so much that Zionism is racism. It’s that Jewishness is.”
Let me pull that out for you. This isn’t about Zionism or landlords or capitalism or AIPAC. We live in a world in which everyone is being told to side either with the “racists” or the “anti-racists.” Jews who refuse to erase what makes us different will increasingly be defined as racists, often with the help of other Jews desperate to be accepted by the cool kids.
One more note on the ludicrous lengths that the Woke go to ignore the historical oppression of the Jews. This comes, unsurprisingly, from the anti-Semitic Linda Sarsour, and the quote is from an academic paper, “Critical Whiteness Studies and the ‘Jewish Problem’ by Balázs Berkovits:
Linda Sarsour, the “new face of intersectional feminism,” who had also been invited to the “Jews of color” gathering before she participated in the panel on antisemitism at the New School for Social Research, was very clear on the subject. Speaking in a video published by the Jewish Voice for Peace, she said: “I want to make the distinction that while anti-Semitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic. […] Of course, you may experience vandalism or an attack on a synagogue, or maybe on an individual level… but it’s not systemic, and we need to make that distinction.” Here, Sarsour implies that first, it is not a collective or structural phenomenon, but the sum of scattered individual acts, and second, and more importantly, that antisemitic attacks carried out by other minorities (which is most often the case) cannot be significant, for those are not the actions of the dominant (white) groups, who determine the permanence of structural racism. The theoretical underpinning of this view, besides “intersectionality,” comes from a theory of structural racism. (pp. 88–89)
Critical Theory has other problems, too, for Muslims are seen on the one hand as people of color, but on the other can be seen as oppressors—especially in Muslim countries that oppress gays, women, apostates, atheists, and, of course, the rare Jews who still live in such countries.
Here’s an example of behavior by an elected member of the U.S. Congress, Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), which has been completely ignored by “mainstream” media even though it’s surely a story that Americans would want to know. Don’t we need to hear the views of those who represent us in Congress? And surely if a Congresswoman tweeted that she favored the elimination of the Palestinian territories, that would be front-page news in the New York Times and Washington Post. But if a Congressman (Tlaib in this case) promotes the elimination of Israel, well, that’s boring “dog bite man” news for the Woke Media—news not worth reporting.
Yet here’s a tweet that Tlaib issued last Sunday, which parrots a slogan often employed by two groups: anti-Israel Arab governments and organizations, and the Anglophonic Far Left:
The slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” refers to unifying all Palestinian and Israeli territory into one state. Proponents of this insane plan think it will bring peace and comity, which it surely will not. In Israel there are about 6 million Jews and 2 million Arabs, and there is relative harmony for the Arabs, who are longstanding Israeli citizens and even serve in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. In Gaza there are about 2 million Arabs, and in the West Bank about 2.5 million Arabs. Unifying Israel with the Palestinian Territories, and leaving out for the moment the Israeli Arabs, would result in a 50:50 mixture of Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, many of whom have been brought up thinking that their mission is to kill Jews. That alone would make a unified state untenable.
It gets worse if you accept the Arabs’ and Far-Left’s demand that Arabs also have the “right of return”, which means that every descendant of the 600,000-800,000 Arabs who fled Israel in 1947-1948 to avoid the presumed destruction of Israel—which didn’t happen—would have the right to come back and live in Israel. This is several million people, for those descendants live in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, as well as other countries like the U.S. (Rashida Tlaib herself would have the right of return, as well as Linda Sarsour). Presumably many Arabs in the West wouldn’t return to Israel, but surely many in the Middle East would, and that would turn the 50:50 ratio into one that was Arab by a huge majority. Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, but, worse, genocidal killing would ensue.
This is why the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, is both disingenuous (promising as it does ethnic harmony, as with the “dove of peace” in Tlaib’s tweet), and untenable, for it would lead to mass destruction and death. It is also anti-Semitic, for it would lead to the death of Jews and the end of Israel as a Jewish state. But its proponents know this very well, and that’s why they too are both duplicitous and anti-Semitic. (The only tenable solution for comity in the Middle East is a two-state solution, which I favor but which increasingly looks unattainable.)
And that’s presumably why Tlaib took down the tweet above the day after she tweeted it (I have a screenshot above). Tlaib does favor the right of return and a one-state solution (she also favors BDS), but to explicitly say that she favors the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state would be too much for Americans to take.
Although the American “progressive Left” is, by and large, anti-Semitic, they are secretive about it, as was the Labour Party in the UK. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another “squad member”, also has an anti-Semitic bent, for she’s been a constant critic of Israel but not of the Palestinian Authority (or Hamas), and has waffled on BDS (she voted against a Congressional resolution, sponsored by a Democrat, to condemn the BDS movement, winding up on the losing side of a 398-17 vote). And of course there’s Ilhan “It’s about the Benjamins, Baby” Omar, who is also, I venture to say, anti-Semitic.
Because the progressive Left is anti-Israel and by extension somewhat anti-Semitic, you won’t find anything about Tlaib’s position or tweet in papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post. If you do a Google search for “Rashida Tlaib from the river to the sea” , you’ll find links only to only Jewish and right-wing organizations like Fox News or Elder of Ziyon.
This tacit alliance between “progressive” Jews and the American Right pains me, for Jews have traditionally been Democrats, closer to the Left end of the political spectrum. Further, while I like some of the aims of “progressive Democrats,” I simply can’t be on board with a policy that wants to end the state of Israel and promote carnage. The problem is twofold, and this is the take-home lesson: the American far Left is anti-Israel and flirts with anti-Semitism, and the liberal media in the U.S. is pretty much on that same page.
With news media like that, you’re not going to be reading about any criticisms of Palestine or Palestinians—nor of any of the Squad’s anti-Israel views—in the liberal media. For some years they’ve tacitly ignored the anti-Semitism of the Left. Well, they ignore it at their peril, for it brought down the Labour Party in Britain. Likewise, it could seriously damage the “progressive” Left in America.
Muslims throughout the world are reacting with hostility towards France since Macron cracked down on extreme Islamism in the country. After the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons satirizing Muhammed, and then a Islamic terror attack in Nice that killed three, President Macron is determined to defang extreme Islamism in France. His new plan, aimed at becoming law this year, bars Muslim home-schooling, requires all children to attend state-recognized schools from age three, and calls for more scrutiny of foreign funding of mosques as well as suppressing speech that incites hatred (his plan was formulated before the Nice killings).
In response, much of the Muslim world, but particularly Turkey, has vowed to boycott French products and strike back at France in other ways, including diplomatically. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is particularly incensed, though some of his ire is clearly meant to distract his populace from the tanking Turkish economy and Erdogan’s suppression of free speech and his efforts to return his country to the pre-Atatürk condition of being an officially Muslim country. Erdogan was particularly peeved at the latest Charlie Hebdo cover, below. (Macron also said, at a memorial service for Samuel Paty, that France “will not give up our cartoons”.)
The cartoon depicts Erdogan sitting in a T-shirt and underwear, drinking a beer, and lifting up a woman’s hijab to expose her bare backside. [JAC: it’s not a hijab, which is a headscarf, but a chador.]
Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, by most Muslims, and Erdogan has long condemned it.
“Ouuuh! The Prophet!” the speech bubble from Erdogan’s mouth said, suggesting Erdogan was only pretending to be a staunch defender of Islam.
The headline published alongside the cartoon said: “Erdogan: In private, he is very funny!”
Now I don’t spend my time reading all the world’s press, but my impression is that they’re spending a lot of space explaining why Muslims are angry at France for its crackdown on extreme Islam, as well as the cartoons, and not so much space decrying the terrorist attacks in France, much less the religious ardor that causes them. One gets the impression from some journalistic pieces, like the one under consideration, that writers are more concerned with explaining why the terrorists felt compelled to attack French civilians than with explaining why Islam inspires such acts of terrorism. (Here’s a particularly egregious example from Politico.)
UPDATE HERE: Reader Ken alerted me to the fact that the Politico article has disappeared, replaced by this editor’s note:
If it didn’t meet their editorial standards, why did they publish it? Well, I managed to find a copy online and have saved it at the Wayback Machine, so you can see the lunacy by clicking here. I think you should have a look.
The implication of many of these pieces, at least to me, is that “the French sort of had it coming”. That may sound extreme, but given the pro-Muslim stance of the liberal mainstream press, and its failure to strongly decry the attacks—or analyze why Islam, alone among major faiths, inspires such attacks—I can’t help but think that these “explanations” shade into “excuses”. My prediction is that the liberal mainstream media, already strongly Islamophilic (after all, Muslims are seen by the Left as oppressed people of color), will become even more so in the coming years, and it will seep into their straight journalism, as it already has in The New York Times.
The latest report implying that “the French had it coming” is from the Associated Press (AP). As the article below from Tablet notes, the AP has long had a sympathy for Muslims, particularly in Palestine, to the extent of deliberately slanting its journalism in favor of Palestine and against Israel. I’ve mentioned this piece several times before, and since the AP is a major source of news for Americans, with its reports appearing in many newspapers, this is a must-read:
I won’t dwell on the piece above except to say that you need to read it if you have an interest in Western journalism about Palestine and Israel.
The story at hand is the new AP piece below, which has all the earmarks of an excuse. If you asked me why there are so many terror attacks in France, my answer would be that France has both absolutely and relatively more Muslims than any country in Western Europe (8.8%; 5 million), that this is a result of the French having colonized Muslim lands, that Islam encourages separatism and a sense of offense against those seen as “blasphemers,” and that the long-standing French policy of laïcité (secularism or church-state separation), which began with the French Revolution, is seen as a slap at religion, especially by Muslims.
Granted, French colonialism was abhorrent, but it no longer exists, and can’t be a valid reason for killing French citizens. Also, Macron’s measures, which I haven’t studied in detail, may be a bit extreme, but again, that doesn’t justify killing, nor does it justify the press’s concentration on French bad behavior instead of Islam-inspired murder. And I’m not sure how much of the Muslim failure to integrate into French society is due to their own culture rather than to French measures that prevent such integration. As far as I know, the French are eager to integrate all immigrants, but there is surely some bigotry against Muslim immigrants.
But the AP’s article (click n screenshot) sounds like a chastisement of the French for their secularism. To me, it’s more than an explanation: it’s also an excuse.
Here are some excerpts from the story:
So why is France singled out for protests and calls for boycotts across the Muslim world, and so often the target of deadly violence from the extremist margins?
Its brutal colonial past, staunch secular policies and tough-talking president who is seen as insensitive toward the Muslim faith all play a role.
As France steps up security and mourns three people killed in a knife attack at a church on Thursday – the latest of many attributed to Islamic extremists in recent years — here’s a look at some of the reasons the country is under fire.
Failure of integration:
But the country’s efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants have faltered. The official French doctrine of colorblindness is intended to ignore ethnic and religious backgrounds and to have all French citizens seen as equally French. In reality, the ideal often fuels discrimination against those who look, dress or pray differently from the historically Catholic majority, instead of preventing it.
Muslims are disproportionately represented in France’s poorest, most alienated neighborhoods, as well as its prisons. That has bred angry outcasts who see their homeland as sinful and disrespectful toward Islamic traditions, or simply racist against Arab and other immigrants from lands that once enriched the French empire.
Is all of this the fault of the French government, as the article implies?
France maintains a more hands-on role than Britain does in their former colonies, notably via economic and cultural ties — and that’s also visible in how France deploys troops abroad.
French forces intervened in recent years against Islamic extremists in Mali and Syria, both former French holdings. Thousands of French soldiers are now stationed in former colonies in the Sahel region of Africa with the same mission.
A French military presence fuels routine online appeals from IS, Al-Qaida and other extremists for retaliation on French soil, in hopes of forcing France to withdraw its forces.
“Strict secularism” (my emphasis)
Much of the current anger stems from the recent republication by French satirical newspaper weekly Charlie Hebdo of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoon images of Islam’s founder deeply offended many Muslims, who see them as sacrilegious. But the cartoons were originally published in Denmark in 2005, and similar images have been published in other countries that hold freedom of expression dear.
While French officials often say their country is targeted because of its reputation as the cradle of human rights and a rampart of global democracy, what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.
The often-misunderstood concept of French secularism is inscribed in the country’s constitution. It was born in a 1905 law separating church and state that was meant to allow the peaceful coexistence of all religions under a neutral state, instead of a government answering to powerful Roman Catholic clerics. Crucifixes were at one point torn from classroom walls in France amid painful public debate.
A century later, polls suggest France is among the least-religious countries in the world, with a minority attending services regularly. Secularism is broadly supported by those on both left and right.
As the number of Muslim in France grew, the state imposed secular rules on their practices. A 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in schools remains divisive, if not shocking to many outside France. A 2011 law banning face veils made Muslims feel stigmatized anew.
Note the phrase “what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.” Yes, that may be an explanation, but, as in the Politico piece, it sounds like an excuse. France is too secular! As Politico said, France has a “dangerous religion of secularism.” Since when is secularism a religion? And how is it “dangerous”? Only to those who are so attached to their faith that they’ll kill for it.
Yes, secularism entails an acceptance of blasphemy, for religion, like politics, should not be protected from criticism. It’s that blasphemy that inspired the original Charlie Hebdo murders, and has now returned to prompt four more murders.
Finally, the AP mentions an “outspoken President”.
France has been hit with extremist attacks over recent decades under leaders across the political spectrum, but centrist President Emmanuel Macron is a particularly popular target. Protesters burned his portrait or stomped on it at protests in multiple countries this week.
That’s in part because of a law Macron plans to introduce to crack down on Islamist fundamentalists he contends are turning some communities against the state and threatening pillars of French society, including schools. In the wake of recent extremist attacks, his government expelled Muslims accused of preaching intolerance and shut down groups seen as undermining French laws or norms.
The words the president uses have provoked outrage as well. He said the planned law was aimed at Islamist “separatism,” which raised fears of the further alienation of French Muslims.
At a memorial for a teacher beheaded for showing the prophet caricatures to his class, Macron gave a speech extolling tolerance, knowledge and religious freedom. But he drew ire, including from Turkey’s president, for saying, “We won’t renounce the caricatures” and that France should “diminish Islamists.”
Earlier, Macron described Islam as a “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” with positions “hardening” in many Muslim countries.
Now I’m sure that France bears at least some guilt for policies that anger its Muslim population. But those policies cannot by any means justify the murder of civilians. And I maintain that the main cause is still religion—a religion that mandates proselytizing, encourages feelings of outrage, and is as much a way of life as a faith, encouraging separatism.
You may say that I’m misinterpreting these articles: that they’re just meant to explain to the public why French Muslims are outraged to the extent that they slaughter non-Muslim citizens. But I’d be more likely to believe such a claim if I saw an equal number of articles explaining why the religion of Islam, as opposed to other faiths, is so often involved in these attacks. Doesn’t the public need to know that, too? Well, not according to the press, who, if they gave such explanations, would be subject to terrorist attacks themselves.
I’m not sure whether Bari Weiss has a new, permanent gig at Tablet Magazine, but her latest big article is there (see below). While Tablet may seem a comedown from the New York Times—where she was hectored by her colleagues so relentlessly that she left—Tablet has had some good stuff, including scoops. It broke the news of Jonah Lehrer’s plagiarism, leading to his resignation from The New Yorker and semi-permanent disgrace, it found out that Jewish lesbians were expelled from Chicago’s Dyke March, and it exposed the anti-Semitism rife among the leaders of the Women’s March, leading to the fracturing of that movement. It’s also a Jewish venue, and Bari Weiss is much concerned with anti-Semitism, the topic of her most recent book. Still, the NYT needs someone like Weiss—a liberal critical of what’s happening to liberalism—yet they’ve simply replaced her with a garden variety anti-Zionist.
Weiss’s new Tablet piece is long but very good. I say it’s a must-read because it does a superb job of exposing the anti-Semitism at the heart of Wokeness, while decrying the aims of that movement (if it is a movement) as anti-liberal. This much most of us know, but she collects a lot of evidence of anti-Semitism among the Woke, something that many prefer to ignore.
I happen to agree with her, and feel, as she does, that the “anti-Zionist” trope that passes for the Left’s criticism of Israel is actually thinly disguised anti-Semitism. Neither Weiss nor I are gung-ho fans of the Netanyahu government, but Israel is a country duly recognized by the United Nations, and anti-Zionism is, pure and simple, a denial of Israel’s right to exist. So are calls for a “one-state solution”, which, as everyone knows, constitute a recipe for a bloodbath in the Middle East. And so is the BDS movement, which from the outset has opposed Israel’s right to exist.
But I digress. I won’t quote Weiss in extenso, for there’s simply too much that is quoteworthy. You should read her article, whether or not you agree with it. Click on the screenshot to see it.
As I noted, her article deals with two interrelated issues: Wokeness as anti-liberalism, and the infection of the Left by a brand of Wokeness that is anti-Semitic. The result, as Weiss foresees, is a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the Left, not just in America but throughout the West (the Middle East through India is already largely anti-Semitic, though Arab states are beginning to make their own peace with Israel). Yet as Arabs reconcile with Israel (a result that the Palestinian and many NGOs can’t abide), the Left grows more hostile towards the Jews.
Here’s Weiss’s take-home lesson:
I share with the majority of American Jews’ disgust toward Trump and Trumpism, which has normalized bigotry and cruelty in ways that have crippled American society. That truth doesn’t detract from another: There is another danger, this one from the left. And unlike Trump, this one has attained cultural dominance, capturing America’s elites and our most powerful institutions. In the event of a Biden victory, it is hard to imagine it meeting resistance. So let me make my purpose perfectly clear: I am here to ring the alarm. I’m here to say: Do not be shocked anymore. Stop saying, can you believe. It’s time to accept reality, if we want to have any hope of fixing it.
It may be too late to fix it, but her article is a game try. After all, even the British Left, or at least the Labour Party, pulled back from the anti-Semitism that nearly wrecked it.
Weiss begins with what she considers a shocker: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s acceptance and then withdrawal from a memorial event honoring Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated for trying to make peace with Palestine. It’s not a shocker to me, though (indeed, AOC’s acceptance was a shocker), for you don’t have to be a genius to see the anti-Semitism of all members of “The Squad.” And if the Squad really heralds a new “progressivism” among Democrats, so the American Left will move further towards dislike of and disdain for Jews, aligning itself with Palestine, a territory that rejects every ideal of democracy and humanism.
As Roger Cohen pointed out in the New York Times, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had initially agreed to participate in a virtual memorial on October 20 to Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who, 25 years ago on November 4, was killed by an assassin who deplored Rabin’s desire to compromise with the Palestinians and Rabin’s peace initiative with Yasser Arafat. It wouldn’t do, after all, to have anybody on “The Squad” celebrate anything to do with Israel. Remember, one hallmark of the “progressive” Democrats is their unstinting celebration of all things Palestinian and the demonization of all things Israeli and Jewish.
No surprise there. Weiss, however, does seem to be surprised (all further quotes from her Tablet piece):
The savvy politician [AOC] had read the room and was sending a clear signal about who belongs in the new progressive coalition and who does not. The confusion—and there seems to be a good deal of it these days—is among American Jews who think that by submitting to ever-changing loyalty tests they can somehow maintain the old status quo and their place inside of it.
Weiss then gives example after example of fulminating anti-Semitism in the media and other influential groups (I wasn’t aware that Twitter suspended Bret Weinstein’s “civic organization” but still allows Iranian ayatollahs to promote Jewish genocide).
We segue to the problem of Wokeness as anti-liberal, especially viewed through its new lens of anti-racism, in which “I don’t see color”—the goal of Martin Luther King, Jr.—has become “I must see color in everything.” (You can sense Weiss’s frustration towards the New York Times and its 1619 Project in the piece.):
The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game—due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself—must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with—designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power.
“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” as the writer Audre Lorde put it. And the master’s house must be dismantled—because the house is rotted at its foundation.
The beating heart of this new ideology is critical race theory. The legal scholar Angela Harris put it concisely in her foreword to Critical Race Theory: An Introduction:
Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.
Critical race theory says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness—the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character—must itself be deemed racist. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.
The new guru of race issues on the Left, claims Weiss, is Ibram X. Kendi. But his values are at odd’s with King’s, which means they’re at odds with classical liberalism. The characterization below is itself brilliant—and accurate.
According to Kendi, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality, no such thing as “not racist.” Indeed, Kendi wants to ban those words from the dictionary.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech would not meet Kendi’s definition of anti-racism, nor would the one Barack Obama made about there being too many fatherless Black families. Indeed, nearly everything that Americans have been taught about how to be anti-racist for the past several decades is, according to Kendi’s explicit definition, racist.
It’s a rhetorically brilliant strategy. Racism is the gravest sin in American life. Who would ever want to be anything other than an anti-racist? And so under the guise of a righteous effort to achieve overdue justice and equality of opportunity for Black Americans, Kendi and his ideological allies are presenting Americans with a zero-sum choice: conform to their worldview or be indistinguishable from the likes of Richard Spencer.
. . . Over the past few decades and with increasing velocity over the last several years, a determined young cohort has captured nearly all of the institutions that produce American cultural and intellectual life. Rather than the institutions shaping them, they have reshaped the institutions. You don’t need the majority inside an institution to espouse these views. You only need them to remain silent, cowed by a fearless and zealous minority who can smear them as racists if they dare disagree.
This I’ve seen time after time in academia, with classical liberals afraid to criticize the “progressive” Left for fear of being smeared as racists. This pusillanimous attitude reminds me of those on the Left who refused to defend accused Communists during the McCarthy era lest they be smeared themselves. As a friend told me recently, “Most academics are cowards.”
Part of “progressive” Leftism is a denial of cultural differences, or at least the view that the differences have meaning and should be scrutinized (viz., the misogyny and homophobia of many Muslims). The Jews, though, have always been the “others”, and thus must be demonized. What’s saddest is that Jews and blacks used to be allies, most prominently during the Civil Rights era, yet now anti-Semitism is rife among African-Americans, and not just members of the Nation of Islam. Have a look at the link below in which Oberlin students see the Holocaust as “white on white crime.” Now that is shocking.
By simply existing as ourselves, Jews undermine the vision of a world without difference. And so the things about us that make us different must be demonized, so that they can be erased or destroyed: Zionism is refashioned as colonialism; government officials justify the murder of innocent Jews in Jersey City; Jewish businesses can be looted because Jews “are the face of capital.” Jews are flattened into “white people,” our living history obliterated, so that someone with a straight face can suggest that the Holocaust was merely “white on white crime.”
The end of Weiss’s piece is brilliant:
America is imperfect. The past few years and the problems they have laid bare have rocked my faith like no others before. But the ideas this country is based on truly are exceptional, worthy of our relentless defense and more. They are under siege by Trumpism, but also by those who suggest that the solution to our problems lies in obsessing on race; in suggesting that some Americans are more righteous or more cursed than others by dint of the circumstances of their birth; and in tearing down rather than renewing. That leaders and philanthropists charged to protect and nurture our community are entertaining, and at times embracing, such nihilistic and anti-American ideas is a scandal.
It is not by chance that Jews thrived in a world in which liberalism prevailed. The idea that we should judge each person not by their station or their family lineage but by their deeds; that human beings have agency—these are revolutionary ideas that are, at root, Hebrew ones. We should never be shocked that any ideology that makes war on these true and eternal values will inevitably make war on us.
It is this growing animus against “Zionism”—and despite the denial of critics, against Jews—that has made me speak up against anti-Semitism. I’m a secular Jew, though David Silverman denies that such people exist coherently, but I reject every tenet of the religion. Still, I feel Jewish because of the culture, a culture I admire when it’s separated from anything religious (I suppose I’m a cultural reform Jew, the wing of the faith that barely believes in God). And yet I didn’t start getting my hackles up until I saw my own side—the Left, for crying out loud, the traditional side of Jews!—become more and more anti-Semitic, all the while pretending that it’s just “Zionism” they dislike. But the mask slips when people advocate for BDS without knowing its real aims, and when they call for a “one state solution”. Or when the Left ignores the palpable anti-liberal principles governing Palestine and other Arab countries.
Enough. Weiss says it much better than I could. You don’t have to heed her warning, but you should definitely read her warning.
Facebook’s Vice-President for Content Policy has posted a new notice saying that, as part of the firm’s fight against “hate speech,” they’re removing any content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.” Click on the screenshot to see the full announcement:
Today we are updating our hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust. . .
. . . Following a year of consultation with external experts, we recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions.
Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services. Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people. According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.
Institutions focused on Holocaust research and remembrance, such as Yad Vashem, have noted that Holocaust education is also a key component in combatting anti-Semitism. Beginning later this year, we will direct anyone to credible information off Facebook if they search for terms associated with the Holocaust or its denial on our platform.
Now Facebook, as a private operation, has the right to ban whatever it wants. And I can see some rationale for banning vicious stereotypes of any group (they also ban white supremacists), though it’s not clear from the announcement above if the anti-Semitic stereotypes they ban are only those that show Jews controlling the world. (What about big-nosed Jews fondling dollar bills or sticking pitchforks into Palestinians?) But with Facebook, as with universities, I favor speech as free as possible—ideally, speech that is “free” as U.S. courts have interpreted the First Amendment. That means all speech is permissible save that speech which harasses individuals, is defamatory, constitutes false advertising, promotes immediate and foreseeable violence and so on.
In other words, I think that the speech permitted on Facebook should be speech that is permitted at the University of Chicago. And that includes both varieties of hate speech noted above. One advantage, for instance of allowing anti-Semitism is to either out those purveying it, or to realize how widespread the problem really is. One cannot grasp, for instance, how much hatred of Jews is officially purveyed by some Arab states until you see the stuff for yourself.
One can make an even stronger case for Holocaust denialism—that is, to allow it. I speak from personal experience, for it was only by reading Holocaust denialists, and seeing how superficially convincing their arguments were, that I was motivated to do additional reading of those who addressed and attacked the denialism. And that led me to the strongest denial of Denialism I know: Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman’s 2009 book Denying History (below). Shermer and Grobman not only powerfully refute Holocaust Denialism, but also use the case as an example of “pseudohistory” (which resembles “pseudoscience”) and further analyze the psychology of the denialists and those who follow them.
So I can appreciate Facebook’s aim, which is to prevent hate, but they are setting themselves up as the arbiters of what is “hate speech”, and it’s dangerous for anyone to do that, as Christopher Hitchens often remarked. (He also defended the rights of Holocaust Denialists who had been arrested.) How can you answer those who purvey lies if the lies themselves are censored? Further, is banning something a good way to suppress its message? There is, as we know, the Streisand Effect.
I write this as a secular Jew who despises anti-Semitism and Holocaust denialism. I am not a “self-hating Jew”. But my cultural affinity with Jews is not as strong as my support for freedom of speech.
I’m sure some readers will feel that the New York Times‘s description of Nazis—and of the rabid anti-Semite Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini—as mere “anti-Zionists”, is an innocuous description. But I don’t think so. I think it’s an attempt to rewrite history and, at the same time, defuse some criticisms of Palestine made by a Saudi Prince.
First, some background. The October 6 article in the NYT (click on screenshot below) was about Saudi Prince Bandar making statements that appear to erode his country’s support for Palestine. (This is on the heels of some Arab states starting to normalize relations with Israel.) Prince Bandar’s statements including describing the cozy relationship between the Muslim Grand Mufti (of Jerusalem) and Hitler in the 1940s, as well as the failure of the Palestinians to move forward. Bandar also criticized Yasser Arafat for supporting Saddam Hussein.
The NYT article is below, and the highlighting of its words and tenor in the excerpt are analyzed in an article on the CAMERA website (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis).
The excerpt from the NYT’s article that I (and CAMERA) highlight is in bold below (my emphasis):
In a surprising televised monologue, a senior member of the Saudi royal family and former ambassador to Washington accused Palestinian leaders of betraying their people, signaling an erosion of Saudi support for an issue long considered sacrosanct.
“The Palestinian cause is a just cause but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust but its advocates have proven to be successful,” the royal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, said in the first episode of a three-part program, which aired Monday on the Saudi-controlled Al Arabiya satellite channel.
. . .Prince Bandar offered a rambling and selective history of the Palestinian struggle, saying that the Palestinians “always bet on the losing side.”
His survey, interspersed with archival images and footage, cited the contacts between Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and an early Palestinian nationalist leader, and the Nazis in the 1930s, adding, “we all know what happened to Hitler and Germany.”
The prince also blasted Yasir Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, for embracing the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, despite Kuwait’s record of welcoming the Palestinians. And he accused Mr. Arafat’s P.L.O. of working harder to take over Jordan and Lebanon than to liberate Palestine.
While there is broad agreement that Mr. al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis against Zionism, historians differ on the significance of his relationship with Nazi leaders.
Now there are two issues in this last bolded statement, and in both cases the Times grossly distorts the situation. First is the ridiculous assertion that “Mr. al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis against Zionism”. No, he did not collaborate against Zionism alone (i.e., the movement to create a state that was a homeland for Jews); al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis to exterminate the Jews. (Further, the idea that the Nazis were merely “anti-Zionist” in their dealings with al-Husseini is ludicrous.) You can read an article about the Nazi’s dealings with the Middle East here, and it shows that, first of all, the Nazis wanted useful idiots and advisers in the Middle East to help with the Final Solution, and, second, that al-Husseini, while being an anti-Zionist, was more aptly seen as a rabid anti-Semite who repeatedly called for the death of Jews and their elimination from the Middle East.
Here is what some of what al-Husseini did to further “anti-Zionism” (a list from Malgorzata; you can check the claims or argue with her in the comments, if you wish):
Stopping a transport of a few thousand Jewish children to Palestine – they were instead murdered in death camps.
Organizing an SS Division consisting of Bosnian Muslims.
Broadcasting during the whole war incendiary programs into the Arab world in which the main message was: “The Jews are enemies of God and enemies of mankind. Kill the Jews wherever you find them”.
Drafting plans for death camps for Jews in the Middle East based on Auschwitz and other death camps which he visited and admired.
The CAMERA article adds a few more:
The United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum characterizes al-Husseini as “a vicious antisemite and actively supportive of Nazi Germany’s efforts to annihilate world Jewry.”
Yad Vashem states that the Palestinian mufti was motivated, inter alia, to “lend his support to the ‘Final Solution.’”
JAC: I suppose if there’s any “area of controversy”, it’s whether al-Husseini’s efforts promoted the Holocaust in Europe, and there’s not strong evidence for that. The Endlösung would have taken place with or without his help. But al-Husseini did, as you see above, contribute to the death of Jews and repeatedly called for their deaths. At best, Hitler, who met al-Husseini, got moral support from the Mufti for exterminating Jews, and there’s no doubt that al-Husseini favored exterminating rather than just deporting Jews.
But the weasel statement that “historians differ on the significance of his relationship with Nazi leaders” is misleading, as we have a lot of evidence about that relationship. What we don’t know is how much al-Husseini’s influence on Hitler buttressed the Führer’s determination to exterminate the Jews. I’m happy to believe that the influence was miniscule, and that Hitler was determined to do it with or without al-Husseini. So what? The anti-Semitic Mufti himself contributed to the death of Jews.
More actions from CAMERA about the “relationship”:
Nazi official Wilhelm Melchers is quoted as stating after the war, during testimony about al-Husseini, that “the mufti was an accomplished foe of the Jews and did not conceal that he would love to see all of them liquidated.” (Jennie Lebel, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Haj-Amin el-Husseini and National Socialism, pg. 255.)
Jeffrey Herf, a professor of German history, wrote of al-Husseini that “In Hitler and the Nazis he recognized ideological soulmates who shared his profound hatred of the Jews, Judaism and Zionism.”
In his book on Nazi propaganda in the Arab world, Herf describes al-Husseini’s “intense hatred of Jews,” quoting the Palestinian leader as referring to the “overwhelming egoism” of Jews, who “lived like a sponge among peoples, sucked their blood, seized their property, undermined their morals,” and so on. Jews had “tormented the world for ages” and were “the enemy of the Arabs and of Islam since its emergence,” al-Husseini argued.
In al-Husseini’s 1937 text “Islam and the Jews,” he charges Jews with perfidy going back to the time of Muhammed:
“The battle between Jews and Islam began when Mohammed fled from Mecca to Medina… In those days the Jewish methods were exactly the same as they are today. Then as now, slander was their weapon. They said Mohammed was a swindler… They tried to undermine his honor… They began to pose senseless and unanswerable questions to Mohammed… and then they tried to annihilate the Muslims. Just as the Jews were able to betray Mohammed, so they will betray the Muslims today… the verses of the Koran and the Hadith assert that the Jews were Islam’s most bitter enemy and moreover try to destroy it.”
Al-Husseini also called on his followers to “Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This serves your honor. God is with you.”
Some “anti-Zionism”! Seriously, New York Times?
Although you can argue that the sentence in bold above is just a throwaway remark, I see a whole world of bias in it—bias that the NYT has shown repeatedly. As a woke paper, the NYT must perforce be pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli as well as anti-Zionist, and, I would argue, anti-Semitic, though it has to be careful because many of its readers are Jewish. The owners of the paper are Jewish, and have been, but that means nothing, for some of the most rabid Jew-haters have a Jewish background. I know I’ll be excoriated for calling the Times anti-Semitic, but if it makes you feel better, let’s just call it anti-Zionist and leave it there.
It’s telling that after Bari Weiss (a Jewish columnist who was pro-Israel) left the paper—probably hounded out of her job for her views—they took on Peter Beinart as a contributing op-ed writer. His views on Israel are very different from Weiss’s, and probably align more with those of the editors. Beinart has been a persistent and notable critic of Israel and favors a “one-state” solution in which Israel is not a Jewish state but a Jewish “home”, and in which Jews and Palestinians live together. That’s anti-Zionism for sure, but it’s also a recipe for a bloodbath. It’s like creating a cage in the zoo containing a lion and a lamb. It would lead to the end of the Jews in the Middle East, and all advocates of the one-state solution know this.
Here’s Beinart’s op-ed:
We can only speculate about why the editors and writers of the NYT have an anti-Israel stand so strong that it distorts their reporting, to the point that they consistently neglect Palestinian perfidy in favor of criticizing Israel. But that they do this is unquestionable, and it’s a view held by many on the “progressive” Left, like the Congressional “squad”. I’ll finish by quoting the CAMERA article:
Al-Husseini’s anti-Zionism likely condemned countless Jewish children to death at the hands of the Nazis. But make no mistake: Thanks to the New York Times‘ campaign to normalize and boost anti-Zionism, its recasting of the Nazis and al-Husseini as collaborating merely “against Zionism” will be seen by some of its readers as exculpatory. This is the same newspaper, after all, that not only hosted a debate on its pages about whether Israel should continue to exist, but that stacked the deck so that the defenders of Israel’s existence were outnumbered. It is the same paper that has repeatedly turned its Opinion pages over to activists, from Ian Lustick to Muammar Qaddafi to Ali Abunimah to Peter Beinart, calling for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. Beinart’s anti-Zionist Op-Ed seemingly earned him a job offer from the New York Times Opinion department within days of its publication.
. . . What could make the newspaper whitewash all of this, and recast the partnership between the Nazis and al-Husseini as strictly anti-Zionist? The New York Times has an Israel problem; it has an antisemitism problem; and it has a problem reporting forthrightly on Palestinian antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence — extending, apparently, even to leaders who supported and eagerly collaborated with the Nazis.
That is apparently why the paper made a point of signaling to readers that the Saudi Prince’s criticism of past Palestinian decision-making is invalid, and that al-Husseini wasn’t antisemitic.
It’s telling, for example, that the newspaper characterized Bandar bin Sultan’s criticism as “a rambling and selective history,” when that same newspaper had previously described a conspiratorial, error-filled, and anti-Jewish rant by current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as nothing worse than a “lengthy history lecture.” What makes a history “rambling and selective,” then, is neither bloviation nor inaccuracy. It is the focus of that history. You can fabricate Jewish history all you want. Just don’t shine too hard a light on Palestinian leaders.
Again and again, in fact, New York Times journalists have engaged in advocacy journalism to protect Palestinian decision-makers from criticism. In 2014, after a Palestinian terrorist slaughtered Jews who were praying in a Jerusalem synagogue, editors inexplicably cut from their story on the incident any reference to US Secretary of State John Kerry blaming the massacre on Palestinian incitement. (Kerry’s damning condemnation, in fact, was replaced by a Palestinian accusation that Israel is guilty of incitement.) Last year, a passage explaining that Islamic Jihad is “listed as a terrorist organization by many countries” — an accurate and relevant piece of context — likewise mysteriously disappeared from a Times article.
There’s more, but I’ve seen enough evidence to now believe that the Times’s coverage of the Israeli/Palestine conflict is a Middle Eastern version of The 1619 Project: a distortion of history meant to buttress the paper’s ideology.
Nerdeen Kiswani, a student of Palestinian descent at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School, is a nasty piece of work. According to articles in the New English Review and stopantisemitism.org, Kiswani, as President of the anti-Semitic organization Students for Justice in Palestine, has celebrated terrorists who killed Israeli civilians, herself celebrated the death of those civilians, has been expelled several times from New York City Council meetings for disrupting them, and has issued a variety of statements that can only be interpreted as anti-Semitic, repeatedly decrying Zionism and chanting and tweeting statements like this:
“There is only one solution Intifada Revolution !! It is right, to rebel Israel, Go to hell We don’t want no two state We want ‘48.”
That, of course, means that she doesn’t want any Jewish state in the Middle East, but wants to return to 1948, when four Arab countries invaded Israel after the UN declared it a state the previous year. Both articles above document her history of anti-Semitic bigotry, hatred, and so on, and I won’t bother to repeat it, as it makes me ill.
What makes me more ill is this video of Kiswani recently threatening to set on fire an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) sweatshirt—worn by a black student. You can hear her say, “I hate your shirt. I’m gonna set it on fire. I’m serious!” Fortunately, she didn’t set the guy on fire, but if this isn’t a threat, I don’t know what is.
Technically, this is assault, and it’s illegal.
Now Kiswani has the right to say what she wants at CUNY; it is, after all, a state school, and must abide by the First Amendment. But she should have the right at any school to spew her venom and anti-Semitism. And while you can argue about whether her extolling of terrorists who killed Israelis civilians, or her calling for the abolition of Israel, is simply criticism of a country or true anti-Semitism—I happen to think the latter—you can’t defend her threat to set someone on fire, holding a lit lighter, as “free speech”.
Yet that’s exactly what CUNY Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilek did. After first condemning anti-Semitism based on this incident, Bilek, having received pushback on social media from Israel-haters, retracting her condemnation, and then defended Kiswani’s act as freedom of speech. The Algemeiner reports Bilek’s reversal:
The law school initially condemned the incident, saying, “CUNY School of Law stands against hate and antisemitism.”
After an uproar from backers of Kiswani, however, CUNY Law School Dean Mary Lu Bilek subsequently issued a statement to all students withdrawing and apologizing for the initial denunciation, claiming that Kiswani had simply “exercised her First Amendment right to express her opinion.”
“In responding to this situation, we moved too quickly, which led to several mistakes,” Bilek asserted. “I apologize for taking these actions and for the words we used and for the harm they caused.”
She lamented the first statement’s failure to “communicate the school’s position or to support the student” — i.e. Kiswani.
“In that post, the header said that the Law School ‘stands against hate and antisemitism,’” Bilek continued. “I know the difference between opposition to Israel’s armed forces (or Israel’s policies towards Palestine) and antisemitism, and the student’s post was clearly expressing the former.”
“As a Law School with our values, this mistake is inexcusable,” she added.
She then announced that the university would make sure that it would “have the benefit of the Anti-Bias Response Team from the Race, Privilege, and Diversity Committee to help guide our response and ensure that it is consistent with our obligations, the law, and the Law School’s values.”
“We also will have the hard lesson learned from our mistake in this situation,” Bilek concluded. “We pledge to better foreground our support and restorative justice practices in our responses in the future.”
Look at all that penance and wokespeak, all claiming that Bilek was simply criticizing Israel’s armed forces. And then she says that the anti-bias response team will guide her response! (That’s like having a tiger guard a herd of goats.) The Algemeiner article also reports on the dozens of people who defended Nasreen’s act and claimed that the school had harmed her. That pushback is what made Bilek start flagellating herself.
Now imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, as the New English Review did:
And as a final thought, ask yourself the obvious question: If a non-Muslim male student at CUNY Law School had told a hijabbed girl that “I hate that thing you’re wearing. I’m gonna set it on fire. I’m serious!” while holding out a flaming lighter, what would have happened? All hell would have broken loose. Everybody — Dean Mary Lu Bilek, the Anti-Bias Response Team, the Race, Privilege, and Diversity Committee, the New York chapter of CAIR, would all be on him like a ton of bricks. He’d be expelled in a New York minute.
Indeed. Such is the hatred of the Left for Israel, its right to exist, and for Jews, that we embrace this kind of double standard. But perhaps the sanest take on this incident came from lawyer David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy. Leaving aside whether Kiswani’s acts were anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-IDF, or something else, he simply declares this (my emphasis):
. . . it’s not Dean Bilek’s job to mediate between those who think that this incident reflects antisemitism and those who think it only reflects opposition to Israel or Israeli policy.
That said, it seems to me that the whole controversy misses the forest for the trees. Regardless of what one thinks of the antisemitism issue, a CUNY Law student threatened to burn someone’s sweatshirt with that person wearing it, while holding a lit lighter. She said she was serious. She posted the video stating that she almost burned the guy’s sweatshirt.
Was she really serious? Maybe not. But in legal parlance, what she did was an assault, generally defined as “intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” This is a criminal act, and is not protected by the First Amendment. And thus not only is there no reason for Bilek to “support the student,” if the law school is going to make any official comment at all, it should be criticizing the student for using a threat of violence in the guise of expressing her opinion.
Back in 2018, writing about Bilek’s failure to investigate, much less punish, students who disrupted Josh Blackman’s talk at CUNY Law, I wrote a post entitled CUNY Law Needs to Fire its Dean. I can’t say the recent incident has changed my opinion.
I’m a big fan of free speech, but not of violence or the immediate threat of violence shown above. When a University defends the latter, it’s truly lost its way.
I won’t dwell on this for long, but though I’d call to your attention this new article in The Atlantic about the behavior of the Catholic Church during World War II. It concentrates, though, on the story of how two Jewish children whose parents died in Auschwitz were forcibly baptized by the Church, which, under canon law, then refused to return the children to their Jewish relatives. Click on the screenshot to read.
The story of the complicity of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII (“Hitler’s Pope”) with the Nazi regime is well known; I believe Hitchens referred to it often. If you don’t know about it, there’s a 1999 article in The Atlantic that gives the sordid details, and many other places to read about it on the Internet (here’s another). The Church did very little to help the Jews during the war, and deliberately refrained from denouncing the Hitler regime and the Holocaust, even when Jews were being ferried to the camps from right outside the Vatican.
The article above, though, is more about a specific incident: a pair of Jewish boys who were in effect kidnapped by the church after their parents were taken to Auschwitz, baptized as Catholics, and then kept and hidden by the Church despite the boys’ relatives demanding, after the war, that they be returned to their relatives.
In short, Anni and Fritz Finaly, Austrian Jews, fled to Vichy France during the war, hoping to leave Europe but not making it out. Knowing that their family would likely be rounded up by the Gestapo, the Finalys put their two boys, Robert and Gérald, in the hands of a friend, who promised to look out for them. In 1944 the parents were taken to Auschwitz and disappeared. The friend then put the two boys, aged 3 and 4, in a convent in Grenoble, asking the nuns to hide them. Instead, the nuns put them in a municipal nursery school under the guardianship of the school’s director, Antoinette Brun.
The trouble then began. Brun had the children baptized as Catholics in 1948, meaning that, under canon law, the children were considered Catholics and could not be given back to their Jewish relatives. By then the relatives were doing everything they could to get the boys back, and the Church did everything it could to prevent that. The local authorities cooperated with the Church, though turning the boys over was simply the right thing to do.
The article goes on at length about the Church’s machinations, in cooperation with priests and nuns, to hide the boys. The only possible reason is that ridiculous church law arguing that Jewish kids baptized as Catholics, even though they didn’t assent to baptism, couldn’t be returned to the family. After all, you can’t let good baptized Catholics back into the hands of Christ-killers. (This policy, says the article, is still in force—see Canon 868: “An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.”)
The Pope and his minions fought for years against the boys’ relatives, finally giving up in 1953 when the boys were surrendered to their aunt and flew to Tel Aviv.
What shocked me about all this was the Catholic law, as well as the ruthlessness with which the Church fought against common decency just to keep two Jewish boys out of the hands of their relatives so they could be counted as prizes for the Church. It’s inhumane; but of course when has the Church been humane towards children?
And the canon law allowing that is still in force, though it couldn’t be used today without a huge outcry. This, of course, is only one small part of the anti-Semitism of the Vatican, which didn’t absolve Jews of killing Jesus until 1965. (You’d think that they’d go easier on the Jews since the death of Jesus was a vital part of God’s plan!)