Pondering on Pesach

I am sorry that the Notre Dame Cathedral burnt down, but I feel quite detached from it, it’s not my problem.  We, the Jewish people have our own problems, and rising anti-Semitism is one of them.  During a recent visit to the US (West and East coasts) and the UK, I experienced no such attitudes.  But, the facts speak for themselves.

The thing I noticed most in the UK was the huge influx of immigrants.  The waiter at one restaurant was from Slovakia, the Uber driver was from Iraq.  Before the UK joined the EU this would have been very unlikely.  Now many people in the UK want to turn back the clock, and this is why they have Brexit.  Brexit is partly a nationalistic response to giving up British control to faceless foreign bureaucrats.  So in one respect the turn towards right-wing parties in some European countries doesn’t worry me so much, because as an Israeli I see it in much the same light.  Taking back their own control, very much as we Jews did when we established Israel and fought for it.  I would worry much more if these right-wing parties became stronger and followed the trend of Britain and opted out of the EU.  The break up of the EU would signal great troubles ahead for the world.

In the US, the main concern I experienced was that over the antics of the three congressional stooges, Omar, Rashid and Ocasio-Cortez.  Since they are hard-core anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian and socialist, they are pushing their agenda, and have many useful idiots who excuse them because they are women of color, so we should let them get away with outrageous statements?  It is also incredible that Bernie Sanders is a leading Democratic candidate for President, when he spouts primitive socialism (let’s give the people everything, after all they deserve it; who wouldn’t vote for that?) when he is in fact a multi-millionaire.  It’s a crazy world. 

From the heart of the sovereign Jewish State of Israel, I wish all my Jewish readers a happy healthy and peaceful Seder and Pesach,

 

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Ironies of Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism

There are certain ironies in the current situation.  Anti-Islamic feeling, known as Islamophobia, is increasing throughout Europe, where there are now ca. 15 million Muslims.  But, at the same time anti-Semitism is increasing in parallel, when there are only ca. 1 million Jews throughout the whole of Europe.  Why? Because the Europeans very effectively ethnically-cleansed Europe of Jews the last time around.  The anti-Semitism this time is blamed on Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, who are Muslims.  So at the same time the Europeans hate Muslims, but love Palestinians (?)

Then more and more States, including European countries, are making good ties and relations with the State of Israel, while at the same time their populace is becoming more anti-Semitic.  In this case they distinguish between Jews, who they tend to hate, and Israelis who they admire because they fight the Muslims, who they hate.  Americans and Europeans (especially Christians) tend to see Israel as a bulwark against Islamic expansionism, while at the same time disliking Jews (or hating them) because its traditional. 

Note that part of the reason for Islamophobia is because among Muslims there is a tendency to want to “take over” to make wherever they live into an Islamic State, and indeed every Muslim is supposed to do this.  This results in Muslim hatred of non-believers, infidels, and their ways.  It also results in Muslims wanting to install Sharia Law in place of whatever law is practiced in the West and elsewhere.  These views lead to Muslim terrorism against the West (and Israel).  But, the Jews, when they did live in Europe in significant numbers, never wanted to “take over,” this was a myth of anti-Semitism.  The thought among Jews that they should replace the laws of the countries they lived in with their own practices was non-existent. Certainly Jews had their own ways that were foreign to the Europeans, but they never tried to superimpose them on the surrounding population as the Muslims indeed try to do. So to hate Jews just because you hate Muslims is irrational, but then again all such views are irrational.

The irony is that while liberal-minded Jews in the Diaspora, in America and Europe, are drifting away from support of Israel, non-Jewish liberals blame all Jews because they obviously support Israel.  So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Remember Hitler never asked Jews what they believed, he had them killed because it was a racial thing.  That is anti-Semitism!   Anyway I’m confused, I wish they’d make up their minds, who do they really hate?  

Resurgent Anti-Semitism

It cannot be coincidence that anti-Semitism is a serious issue on both sides of the Atlantic at this time.  In the US, the Democratic Party is on the defensive about the stands taken by its two Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar ( D-Minn) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich).  The former is a Somali refugee and the latter is of Palestinian origin.  Omar has made overtly anti-Semitic statements, accusing Jewish members of Congress of having dual loyalty and saying that she refuses to take an oath of allegiance to Israel, like her colleagues.  As a result of many complaints, including by Jewish Democrats, Nancy Pelosi was preparing a resolution refuting her anti-Semitic statements.  But, an internal fight ensued in which the Congressional Black Caucus supported Omar, and so the resolution was watered down to be against all racism, including anti-Black, Islamophobia as well as anti-Semitism.

But, we should acknowledge that Omar cannot help herself, all Muslims are brought up to be anti-Jewish, as Christians once were.  And now this form of virulent anti-Israelism has infected their culture.   What is perhaps worse is that the Black members of Congress support her, as do her leftist colleagues, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Saunders, who is incredibly running for President again.  So anti-Semitism is now a major issue in the US and has infected the major Democratic party thru the infiltration of Muslims and hard leftists.

In the UK the situation is similar, but in a way worse, because the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has shown himself to be a committed anti-Israel activist, sympathizer with the extreme wings of Palestinian terrorism, as well as being openly anti-Semitic.  And this has resulted in a strong anti-Semitic wave in the Party, resulting in intimidation of those who oppose this wave, and as a result 10 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (MPs), some of them Jewish, have left the Party.  Once again anti-Semitism is a major live issue in British politics, also at a time of political upheaval due to the Brexit situation.

Historically, whenever there has been a time of political upheaval and uncertainty, as found in both the UK and Britain now, there is an upsurge of anti-Semitism.  Popular movements in times of stress look for scapegoats and the Jews are the favorite ones.  Add to this the extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel views of the Muslims now infiltrating Western politics and left-wing parties and you have a cause for deep concern

UK Political Upheaval

An extraordinary political upheaval is taking place in the UK and no-one can tell where it will lead.  The two major Parties, Labour and Conservative, that have controlled the destiny of Britain for 100 years, are both in the process of splitting. It may be that the reasons for each party to split seem quite different, or it may be that the current system has run its course and a new paradigm will eventuate.

The Labour Party started to split first, over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who has made no secret of his disdain for Israel  and for Jews.  Under his leadership the Labour Party has turned sharply left and anti-Semitism has become institutionalized within the Party.  Those who have complained and opposed this have been subjected to political suppression and personal harassment.  As a result first seven and then another member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, i.e. Labour MPs, have resigned from the Party and have moved into a section of the House of Commons for “independent MPs.”  Some of them are Jewish, but certainly not all of them.

Today three Conservative MPs announced they are leaving the Conservative Party.  Their resignation is due to the way PM Theresa May has handled Brexit, but more than that they see that after her approach was rejected by the House, she has tried to appease her most vociferous opponents rather than  try to work with the main-stream.  It has now become apparent that the Conservative Party at its grassroots has been infiltrated and in some cases taken over by Brexit extremists, including members of the former UK Independence Party (UKIP), and that some Conservative MPs are being forced to vote for a no-agreement Brexit, that could be economically disastrous for the country.

These three former Conservatives have now joined the eight former Labour MPs as an independent group in the Commons.  So far they are far from a political party.  They have no declared common aims or policies and might never be able to agree.  But, they are expecting more MPs to join them and this will be a repudiation of the two-Party system that has controlled British politics since the beginning of the Parliamentary system.   The reforming spirits of both PMs Blair on the left and Cameron on the right have long since departed the scene.  This seems to be only the beginning of a political revolution in the UK.

Anti-Semitism is Alive

However much we might want to ignore anti-Semitism, it always rears it’s ugly head.  A CNN poll taken in Europe – Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden, found that ca. 20% of all adults have classic anti-Semitic views, that Jews have too much power, that they control the Banks, the economy, the media, etc., and that ca. one third had never heard of the Holocaust.   

Of course, the results varied from country to country, but these differences are relatively insignificant.  We should not be surprised by this since the much larger poll by the ADL in 2014 found similar results (of course the poll results depend on the questions asked).  Should we simply expect that 10-20% of almost every country in the world are anti-Semitic or should we be alarmed by this apparent rise in the public expression of standard anti-Semitic tropes. 

As we well know, many people hide their animus towards Jews behind blaming Israel for many things, including influencing US foreign policy, controlling Congress, receiving too much US aid, as well as persecuting the Palestinians.  Ironically the same week the poll was issued by CNN they fired one of their commentators, Marc Lamont Hill, a Black American, who expressed classic anti-Israel views at the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians (yes, they have it every year) , and wished that there would be a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”  

This would of course require the total destruction of Israel, and by the way what does he expect to happen to us, the Jewish inhabitants of Israel.  Why of course, we would all disappear, all 6 million of  us, probably in flames.  I saw on i24 News an interviewee say that Lamont’s views were left-wing not anti-Semitic.  Give me a break, the only group in the world not allowed to have their own State are the Jews?  Not anti-Semitic? No one has ever explained to me why the Palestinians are more deserving of a State than we Jews!  Anyway, we have it and they don’t, so swallow that!

Responsibility for Pittsburgh?

It is a gross distortion, according to some liberals and Democrats, to whisper or even shout, that Pres. Trump is somehow responsible for the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh.  Eleven were killed and some 6 more injured in the Tree of Life Synagogue last week.  Is this massacre different from any other in which a deluded and often crazy individual takes a gun and goes and shoots people?  It has happened in schools, colleges, theaters, churches, malls, everywhere in fact.  Were any of these other massacres blamed on the sitting President at the time.  It is a twisted as the individuals who carried out the attacks to claim that any President, let alone Trump, could have in any way possibly been responsible for this attack.

Anti-Semitism is unfortunately endemic and embedded in Western culture. Children learn it growing up from their parents.  Just as any number of strange factors turn one son to be radicalized and join ISIS, or another to take his father’s gun and shoot his peers, or a former mailman to go back and shoot his former boss and his colleagues, so one right-wing fanatic, who blames the Jews for all society’s evils, decides to murder Jews in prayer.  There is a political schism in Washington, there is hard-ball politicking going on, there is strong polarization over real issues such as immigration.  But, to add the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh to this mix, as some Jews and others in Pittsburgh and elsewhere have done, because of their liberal anti-Trump political views, is simply unacceptable.

Not only is Pres. Trump inclined towards being philo-Jewish, not only has his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and he has elevated his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner to a high position in his Administration, not only has he generally supported Israel, not only has he moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, not only…I could go on, but the point is that it is ridiculous to assign blame for such an act, when it is clearly the individual who carried out the act who is responsible, as well as the media outlets that allow such anti-Semitic  lies to be broadcast day in and day out.  Let’s be real and stop this fake blame game!

 

 

Status Quo Ante?

Are we returning to an era characterized by anti-Semitism as it was in the 1930’s before WWII.  Here are some cases in point:

  1. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the “Nation of Islam” in America, referred to Jews as “termites” in a speech and this has been repeated on twitter and other social media.  When twitter was asked to remove it, they refused saying they had no policy in place against inhumane speech.  What about racial slurs, if someone compared Blacks to ants I am sure they would remove it immediately.
  2. The Palestine Authority have arrested and interrogated a Palestinian American in Ramallah for selling a house to a Jew.  The house was in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem.  However, there is no law that prevents sale of houses to any one ethnic or religious group.  Furthermore, the PA has no jurisdiction over Jerusalem.  Does this mean we are returning to the Nazi laws that forbade sales of real estate or anything to Jews.
  3. Lara Alqasem, an Arab-American was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport two weeks ago and refused entry to Israel because of her involvement in a leading role in the BDS movement, that is an anti-Israel organization attempting to boycott and destroy Israel.  As a sovereign State Israel has every right to refuse entry to anyone it chooses.  This is certainly true of every state, otherwise why do they have border checks at every airport and point of entry.  In her case two lower courts agreed with the Government’s right to deport her back to the US.  But, in an appeal to the High Court of Justice, the Judges ruled in her favour and agreed that she should be allowed to enter Israel and study at Hebrew University because she has claimed (without any evidence) that she is no longer involved with BDS.  To me this stinks of deliberate manipulation, I am sure that someone like her would not simply change their views and come to study in Israel for innocent reasons.  It is naive of a Jewish Court to accept her at face value.  Let her go back to the States and over time prove she is not connected to BDS.  But, anyway, this shows that the democratic system in Israel works equitably, but I am afraid it is another example of Jewish naivite in the face of clever enemies.
  4. In the UK, the resurgence of left wing anti-Semitism supported by Jeremy Corbyn is in full swing.   Together with Muslim, mainly Pakistani Brits, who have inflitrated the Labour Party, anti-Israel sentiment regularly segues into anti-Semitism without any concern.  And it is clear that this is a major platforom in both domestic and foreign policy of the second largest Party in UK politics.  Are we going back to the “good old days”?