Antisemitism updates

There have been several alarming incidents of antisemitism around the world in recent days. In Paris, two Jewish men were viciously assaulted, and sickeningly, one of them had his finger sawed off!

The other two notable incidents took place in the United States, where two Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in one week:

A Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was found desecrated on Sunday with dozens of tombstones found overturned.

Jewish gravestones overturned at the Philadelphia Jewish cemetery

Jewish gravestones overturned at the Philadelphia Jewish cemetery

Mt. Carmel Cemetery was the second Jewish funerary grounds targeted within a single week, after a cemetery near St. Louis suffered similar vandalism the previous weekend. US Vice President Mike Pence visited that site this week and vowed to fight the scourge of antisemitism with the weight of the White House.

An ABC affiliate reporter in Philadelphia described dozens of headstones pushed over, if not more than a hundred.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon condemned the attack. “Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry. Full confidence #US authorities catch and punish culprits,” Nahshon tweeted.

The World Jewish Congress tweeted: “It’s just very heartbreaking.”

Jewish cemetery in St. Louis desecrated

Jewish cemetery in St. Louis desecrated

On Saturday, swastikas and vulgar graffiti were discovered in Orchard Park, New York, near Buffalo. The Buffalo News said a dozen residents found their vehicles and property defaced with spray-painted swastikas and vulgar graffiti. The vandals also wrote racial slurs and Nazi symbols on playground equipment at South Davis Elementary School.

We have become so used to antisemitism arising from the Left in recent years that we have almost neglected the hatred from the Right. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump is definitely no antisemite, (his own daughter and grandchildren are Orthodox Jews), he has not been forthright enough in condemning the antisemitism on the fringes of his own party. Kol hakavod to his Vice President Mike Pence for stepping in to the breech with his own strong condemnation of these attacks.

But here is some wonderful good news in connection to the attack in St. Louis: The Muslim community organized to raise funds to repair the Jewish cemetery that was vandalized:

After dozens of tombstones at a historic Jewish St. Louis cemetery were vandalized over the weekend, Muslim-American activists started a fund-raiser to help pay for repairs.

“Every person deserves to rest in peace,” activist and campaign organizer Tarek El-Messidi told the Daily News Tuesday. “No one wants to see the grave of their loved ones desecrated.”

When El-Messidi first learned vandals damaged more than 100 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, he immediately reached its director to talk about campaign ideas and the best ways to provide financial assistance.

There have been no arrests.

The campaign organized by Linda Sarsour, of MPower Change, and El-Messidi, of Celebrate Mercy, raised more than $35,000 as of Tuesday night.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” the fund-raising page on LaunchGood reads.

“We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

While I have my suspicions and doubts about Linda Sarsour’s involvement, nevertheless it is very heartwarming and encouraging that the Muslim community has stepped up to help the Jewish community. Anything that helps the two communities live in peace with each other is to be welcomed.

But now, since today is Rosh Chodesh Adar I’m going to bring you some good news on the antisemitism front.

First and foremost, that scourge of British Jews and Zionists, Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, has died.

The oldest serving MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has died at the age of 86.

Gerald Kaufman MP

Gerald Kaufman MP, died at 86

The Father of the House of Commons – held by the MP with the longest unbroken service – died last night after a long-term illness, his family said.

The Labour MP was first elected in Manchester Ardwick in 1970 before representing Manchester Gorton after boundary changes in 1983, until his death.

An influential backbencher, Sir Gerald was known for his withering remarks and wit, as well as his strong views on the Middle East. He was critical of Israel and compared the killing of Palestinians to the Holocaust.

From the Mail’s capsule obituary we learn more of his anti-Israel stance:

Gerald Bernard Kaufman was born on June 21, 1930, the descendant of a family of Polish Jewish immigrants.

The son of a tailor, he was educated at Cowper Street Council School, Leeds, and Leeds Grammar School, where, he says, he was the victim of anti-Semitic bullying. Later he graduated at Queens College, Oxford.

Kaufman became one of the leading Jewish critics of Israel. He once called for economic sanctions and an arms ban against Israel, describing the country as a ‘pariah’ and its senior politicians ‘war criminals’.

In 2002 he created a BBC television documentary, The End Of The Affair, in which he recounted his youthful infatuation with Israel and his eventual disillusionment.

In April 2002 during Israel’s controversial military operation codenamed Defensive Wall, Kaufman told the Commons: ‘It is time to remind Ariel Sharon (the then prime minister of Israel) that the Star of David belongs to all Jews, not to his repulsive government.

‘His actions are staining the Star of David with blood.’

He denounced Sharon as ‘a blustering bully … a war criminal implicated in the murder of Palestinians’.

In January 2009, during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict, he told the Commons: ‘The present Israeli government ruthless and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.’

You can read more about his anti-Israel record in my posts here.

I know they say one should not speak ill of the dead, so all I will say is that today is Rosh Chodesh Adar, the 1st of the month of Adar, the month in which Purim falls, which is an occasion of great rejoicing. I therefore merely comment:  –משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה – “When the month of Adar begins we increase our joy” as our sages said.

Another downfall of an antisemite (#AntisemitismFail if you wish) occurred when Baroness (a lesser “lady” I have yet to meet) “Jihad” Jenny Tonge denounced the British Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), causing a rebound effect of ever more support for the CAA!

From the first link from the Daily Mail:

A former Lib Dem peer suspended after a row over alleged anti-Semitic comments has been slammed by MPs for saying Britain’s leading group fighting hate speech against Jews should be stripped of its charitable status.

Jihad Jenny Tonge

Jihad Jenny Tonge

Baroness Jenny Tonge was suspended and then quit her party after hosting an event where an audience member said Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.

Now she has signed a petition calling the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) – a group praised by Prime Minister Theresa May and numerous community leaders  – a ‘Zionist propaganda organisation’.

The charity, which works closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to punish anti-Jewish bigots, was attacked in a petition created by blogger Tony Greenstein.

Mr Greenstein has previously stated online that ‘Zionists collaborated with the Nazis’ and helped ’round up’ Jews to send to Auschwitz.

MPs and a peer told MailOnline the petition was an attempt to ‘stifle’ those fighting bigotry and accused Baroness Tonge of promoting ‘hate speech’.

As the CAA reported, Tonge’s unhinged remarks caused a lashback, which was probably the last thing she wanted!

As Baroness Tonge denounced Campaign Against Antisemitism in the Daily Mail, MPs and peers contacted the paper to defend us and our work, despite tight press deadlines meaning that they only had one hour on a Friday afternoon in which to do so.

Baroness Tonge had put her name to a petition by antisemitic criminal Tony Greenstein calling for Campaign Against Antisemitism to be shut down as a charity on the basis that we are supposedly a front for the Israeli government, prompting an outpouring of support for our work from her parliamentary colleagues.

Baroness Deech DBE told the Daily Mail: “It is a sad comment on the rise of hate speech in the UK today that anyone would wish to close down a leading organisation dedicated to fighting the oldest hatred of all. It is no coincidence that the protesters have themselves, at various stages, been accused of antisemitism. Antisemitism comes both from the extreme right and the extreme left — and from that point where the two extremes meet — and the CAA has done a good job of making antisemitism unacceptable. The protesters are conflating Judaism and Zionism by claiming that hate speech against Israel and Zionists is merely political. They should be aware, as I am sure the Charity Commission is, that there is a clear line to be drawn between (acceptable) political criticism of Israel’s government, and on the other side of the line, antisemitic statements going far beyond that. The government’s definition of antisemitism, (which is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance one) which has recently been disseminated to universities, makes that clear.

Even more good news on the antisemitism front: The University of Exeter has become the next institution to ban Israel Apartheid Week:

The University of Exeter has ruled that an event by Exeter Friends of Palestine Society must not proceed over fears of “antisemitism or other forms of unlawful discrimination or harassment”. It is the latest university to ban an event for ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ on grounds of antisemitism.

Exeter Friends of Palestine was informed by the university that for the first time in its history it would be issuing a mandatory ban on the event, which consisted of a piece of ‘street theatre’. Whilst the Students’ Guild authorised the event, the university overruled it on “safety and security” grounds, including the risk of “compulsion” which could be interpreted as a loose term for intimidation. When Exeter Friends of Palestine Society appealed the decision, the university’s Provost, Professor Janice Kay wrote to them: “I have been asked to hear your appeal and do not find grounds to accept it.”

This is such a startling change in attitude it is quite breath-taking. And so refreshing!

The move follows the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by the government following a sustained campaign by Campaign Against Antisemitism, Sir Eric Pickles and others. Minister of State for Universities, Jo Johnson MP, wrote to Universities UK earlier this month asking that all universities be conscious of the definition as ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ approached. Earlier this week the University of Central Lancashire became the first to ban an ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ event, setting an important precedent.

This news is particularly welcome relief after a spate of antisemitic incidents at the University of Exeter. Last week the university tried to brush off an antisemitic incident in which a “Rights for Whites” sign was found in halls of residence and a swastika was found carved into a door in on-campus halls Birks Grange, with a spokesman downplaying this blatant antisemitic incident as possibly merely “an ill-judged, deeply offensive joke.” This follows another alarming antisemitic incident at the university last term in which students were photographed at a sports club social event wearing t-shirts with handwritten antisemitic slogans. One t-shirt bore the slogan: “the Holocaust was a good time.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism also exposed the antisemitism of Exeter Students’ Guild’s Vice President and trustee, Malaka Shwaikh, who had tweeted that she was “proud to be called terrorist” as well as various tweets comparing Zionism to Nazism, including: “Zionism ideology is no different than that of Hitler’s”. When her support for terrorism and her antisemitism were exposed, Shwaikh deleted her tweets and berated those “attacking” her as simply venting their “Islamophobic” prejudice. We are making a disciplinary complaint to the university, along with a complaint to the Charity Commission.

Kol hakavod to the Campaign Against Antisemitism which has organized the British Jewish community and its supporters in Parliament and in politics, like Sir Eric Pickles and Baroness Deech, to enforce the government’s new legislation. Huge kudos too to Prime Minister Theresa May and her government for adopting the international definition of antisemitism and enforcing it.

Hopefully this marks the beginning of a new atmosphere for Jews in Britain, particularly for Jewish students who have been suffering so much under the antisemitic student leadership of Malia Bouattia.

And just like Haman’s downfall occurred on Purim, so may the downfall of all the antisemites continue from today to Purim and onward.

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14 Responses to Antisemitism updates

  1. Pingback: Antisemitism updates – 24/6 Magazine

  2. DP-PT says:

    Happy to hear of the demise of the late and unlamented Gerald Kaufman.

  3. DP-PT says:

    In the USA too much is made of demands of President Trump to denounce anti-Semitic attacks. As if that would stop these foul acts of aggression. What needs to be done is to arrest these thugs and put them behind bars for a considerable time. THAT might concentrate some minds…..

    • anneinpt says:

      The question is how hard are the police looking for them? What about all the bomb threats against Jewish community centres across the US? Has anyone been arrested for those?

  4. Charlie in NY says:

    The most important step in combatting this bigotry was the formulation and adoption of a definition of “antisemitism.” Now there is an accepted standard against which to judge conduct. The absence of a definition (including the withdrawal of an earlier attempt) allowed everyone to have their personal definition, something unheard of when it came to any other prejudice. That, in turn permitted the derailing of the argument, principally by the “Livingstone Formulation,” away from the merits and evidence. Those days of the virtually free pass are over, and the overt problem should diminish over time as this definition spreads. The good news is that even antisemites understand the continuing moral revulsion the label entails, which is why they were so desperate to avoid it at all costs. Now they will either have to wear that mantle proudly or find some other outlet for their anger and irrational fears.

  5. cba says:

    I think you’ll enjoy this

  6. Reality says:

    I must say I’m shocked that Linda Sarsour joined in to help raise money to repair the cemetary.Definitely not her usual mode of work!Maybe she’s beginning to see the light?
    The amount of anti semitism around Europe is truelly frightening.That story of the boys in Paris being attacked and one having his fingers sawed off made me sick.Yet all these vicious anti semites who’d willingly beat up ,possibly even kill Jews if given half the chance,as things get more and more dangerous, these are the very people decrying Israel for mistreating Palestinians!Obviously to mistreat Jews is perfectly acceptable, to ignore facts is also perfectly acceptable.To yell empty slogans in order to create a dangerous air of antisemitism is also perfectly acceptable.Europe has woken up a bit too late in the day.I wonder if they can really make a change.

    • anneinpt says:

      I have strong doubts about the motivations of Linda Sarsour. It could be she’s trying to establish her credentials as “only” anti-Israel and not antisemitic, though the two are practically interchangeable.

      As for the situation in Europe, yes they are waking up, but only after their own extreme Right woke up first. All the old demons have woken up again and it’s a very volatile situation.

  7. Christian Israeli says:

    Anti-Israeli agitators want to prove that Israel doesn’t have legitimacy and that Jews showed up from nowhere, occupied and build sentlements. The key to prove them wrong is to study Jewish medieval history which is now full of misconceptions and wrong interpretation of sources (e.g. Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Jews live in diaspora ever since, or Askenazi community was founded by 300 people). This is simply not true: Jews were mejority in the Holy Land during all Byzantine empire time up until 620 AD and plurality up to 12th century. After the Arab conquest they spread all the way to Spain and this is the source of Sephardi community. During crusades and Jerusalem kingdom there were heavy fighting between Christians and Muslims over Holy Land and most of Jews migrated with Crusades back to Europe via Venice republic and that is the start of Ashkenazi community. Both of them now came back home and formed Israel and have more right on it than muslim Arabs.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you for your comment Christian Israeli. I have a couple of quibbles with some of your historical points but in general you are correct. The salient point is that the Jews have always lived in Israel and have been a majority or plurality for most of history. That is the truth that the Israel haters try to bury.

      The corollary is that the Arabs were NOT indigenous to Israel and only arrived here in great numbers AFTER the Jews returned and made Israel flourish again.

  8. Reality says:

    I agree with Christian Israeli,the problem is that history,or going back so far in time doesn’t interest anyone ,especially Jewish history.They are only willing to go back as far as the beginning of the Muslim era.Thats a big part of the problem.

  9. Pingback: Some Schadenfreude for the week of Purim | Anne's Opinions

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