Daily Briefing: Normalizing Antisemitism in the West (September 6,2019)

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (Source: Wikipedia)

Table Of Contents:

There’s a Debate over Canada’s New Definition of Anti-Semitism, and It Might Sound Strangely Familiar: Maura Forrest, National Post, June 27, 2019


The New Anti-Semitism:  Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, July 12, 2019

No One Cares About Attacks Against The Orthodox Because You’ve Been Dehumanizing Us For Decades Eli Steinberg, Forward, Aug. 29, 2019


Russia Reveals ‘Secret Protocol’ Carving Up Eastern Europe in 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop PactBrian Fitzpatrick, The Observer, Aug. 23, 2019



There’s a Debate Over Canada’s New Definition Of Anti-Semitism, and It Might Sound Strangely Familiar
Maura Forrest
National Post, June 27, 2019

You could be forgiven for having missed the fact that Canada has adopted a formal definition of anti-Semitism. It was included as part of the government’s new anti-racism strategy, announced by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez earlier this week, in a list of terminology toward the end. “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” it reads. “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This is a relatively recent definition, adopted in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body with 31 member countries, including Canada. It’s since been adopted by a handful of countries, including the U.K. and Germany. But controversy has bubbled up around the IHRA definition, fuelled by those who believe it’s over-broad and could chill legitimate criticism of the Israeli state. Though Canada isn’t passing any new laws to curtail debate about Israel, some believe the IHRA definition is a threat to free speech.

If this sounds strangely familiar, that’s because the debate bears a certain resemblance to the controversy that raged for months over M-103, the Liberals’ anti-Islamophobia motion that Conservatives claimed would threaten people’s right to criticize Islam. The arguments in both cases are oddly similar — they’re just coming from very different quarters.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is brief, but includes a list of 11 contemporary examples, such as “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy,” and the claim that Jews invented or exaggerated the Holocaust. It also lists as anti-Semitic “applying double standards by requiring of (Israel) a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

Aidan Fishman, former national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s league for human rights, said his organization pushed for Canada to adopt the IHRA definition because of a “really alarming rise” in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years. “It’s a very comprehensive definition, which really encapsulates anti-Semitism in its modern form,” he said. Canada’s decision comes in the midst of an international effort by Jewish organizations to urge governments and political parties to formally adopt the IHRA definition.

Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP from Montreal and chair of the House of Commons justice committee, said defining anti-Semitism is key to fighting it. “Most people just need to be educated and understand where something crosses the line,” he said.

Still, the IHRA definition has not been universally embraced. Last week, just days before the anti-racism strategy was released, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) released a statement saying the definition is “extremely vague,” “open to misinterpretation” and could undermine Charter rights to free speech. “We fear that if adopted, the IHRA definition will serve to severely chill political expressions of criticism of Israel as well as support for Palestinian rights,” the association said.

We fear that if adopted, the IHRA definition will serve to severely chill political expressions of criticism of Israel. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

The New Anti-Semitism
Yaroslav Trofimov
WSJ, July 12, 2019

When France’s Yellow Vests began to protest weekly last November, it was about President Emmanuel Macron ’s decision to raise fuel taxes. Within a few months, it also started to be about the Jews. Signs that labeled Mr. Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and a slave of the Rothschilds, a reference to the president’s past employment with the investment bank, became a fixture of the demonstrations. In February, several Yellow Vest protesters—since disavowed by the movement—assaulted the Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the doorstep of his Paris home, yelling, “You will die,” “Zionist turd” and “France is for us.”

“When there is a world-wide economic and social malaise, people look for scapegoats—and the Jews have always served as scapegoats,” said Francis Kalifat, the president of CRIF, the council uniting France’s Jewish institutions. “Anti-Semitism creates bridges between the far right and the far left: They have such a hatred in common that they come together.”

In France and other Western societies, the proliferation of new political forces that challenge the established liberal order—from both the right and the left—has revived old patterns of vilifying the Jews as the embodiment of the corrupt elites supposedly responsible for society’s ills.

Meanwhile, unfiltered social media has pushed these anti-Semitic tropes, long confined to the fringes, into the mainstream of public debate. On any given issue—from economic inequality to the financial crisis to immigration and terrorism—old and new conspiracy theories blaming the Jews have gained new traction, abetted by the political polarization and general crisis of confidence permeating Western democracies. “Latent anti-Semitism is being activated,” said David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck, University of London. “Populist politics is not inherently anti-Semitic, conspiracy theories are not inherently anti-Semitic, but both very easily lend themselves to an anti-Semitic turn and easily become anti-Semitic.”
This change comes after an unusual, postwar golden age that Jewish communities enjoyed across Western Europe and the U.S. over the past several decades. After the horrors of the Holocaust, a commitment to minority rights, religious freedom, an inclusive vision of nationhood and a human-rights-based liberalism seemed to be the bedrock of political life in Western democracies. While anti-Semitic prejudice persisted in some areas, overt anti-Semitism seemed taboo.

‘The trend away from liberal democracies is bad for the Jewish people, period.’ —Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League “Liberal democracies have been good for the Jewish people. Civil rights have been critical to our success in societies which, in the absence of these rights, over centuries and millennia systematically discriminated against and marginalized Jewish people,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York. “The trend away from liberal democracies is bad for the Jewish people, period.”
As anti-Semitic discourse again becomes normalized in the West, the number of incidents targeting Jews has surged in the U.S. and Europe. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


No One Cares About Attacks Against The Orthodox Because You’ve Been Dehumanizing Us For Decades
Eli Steinberg
Forward, Aug. 29, 2019

You’ve all heard the story: A Haredi Jew violently assaulted in broad daylight somewhere in New York City. It happens so often now, with what is almost a chilling regularity, it’s virtually impossible to miss. According to the NYPD, anti-Semitic hate crimes have skyrocketed in the past year; the 145 complaints so far in 2019 alone are sharply up from 88 in that same time frame a year earlier — a year which itself saw a 22% increase from 2017. As Tablet Magazine’s Armin Rosen put it so pithily, “Everyone Knows.” And yet, as Forward Life editor Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt pointed out yesterday, nobody cares.

After every attack, the same playbook repeats itself: The perfunctory condemnations from elected officials roll in and out, barely stopping for a moment to take a breath. It’s better than nothing, I suppose, but not much better. Why does no one care? Because the past few decades have seen a steady increase in the otherization of Orthodox Jews, to the point where we are being attacked with bricks and no one cares.

The replies to Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s article on Twitter were instructive. So many were filled with people — other Jews — blaming Orthodox Jews for what has been happening to us. A friend — not Orthodox — texted me in shock at the replies. I was not shocked. I got some of that same treatment last night when I shared an utterly offensive video the Republican Party of Rockland County posted to their Facebook page, which portrayed Orthodox Jews as an invading host that is threatening the good white folks of Rockland. It’s your fault that people hate you.

If you thought the anti-Semitism was a “left/right” thing, I have news for you. Republican Party of Rockland County posts this overtly Naziesque video, saying the Jews are threatening “our homes, our families, our schools, our water, our way of life.”

No other minority group in this country would be subjected to this sort of rhetorical abuse — to say nothing of the violent attacks — and see the same sort of wholesale hand-waving we see when Orthodox Jews are abused.
But it doesn’t start with physical violence. It starts when people deliberately otherize Haredi Jews in pursuit of whatever their agenda happens to be. The Rockland County issue is perhaps most overt, but similar situations are playing out further upstate, in Kiryas Joel and Chester, and in New Jersey towns bordering Lakewood where I live. In each of these instances, Jews are portrayed as greedy developers, outsiders who want to “invade” these towns, with misinformation about their supposedly nefarious plans spread via Facebook pages which do more than just dabble in overt anti-Semitism.

So, nothing happened between the two parties? Just people moving in? I see. That makes it look like some kind of battle, but it doesn’t really say what. That’s why I asked. Somehow, when it comes to Orthodox Jews, people allow themselves to give voice to the kind of bigotry that if they are unlucky enough to feel towards any other minority, they know to keep to themselves.

And instead of calling it out for what it is, the media just parrots these “concerns” devoid of any context as to the motivations of the people who are asserting them — providing the necessary validation for these smears, as though there are “two sides” on issues of anti-Semitism. While the New York Times reported that the former and current town supervisors of Chester once said that “every day” they are “doing what we can to alleviate 432 Hasidic houses in the town of Chester,” they also allowed them to assert that they were not motivated by anti-Semitic animus, (“It’s not anti-Semitic to say it’s going to be a Hasidic development”) but that “They want to get more than what they are entitled to.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


Russia Reveals ‘Secret Protocol’ Carving Up Eastern Europe in 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Brian Fitzpatrick
The Observer, Aug. 23, 2019

Offering a unique insight into one of the most controversial political deals in history, Russia has displayed the original text of a pact between Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, including the deal’s condemned “secret protocol.”

Signed in Moscow on Aug. 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was ostensibly a non-aggression agreement between the two powers, but also contained a cunning backroom deal to divvy up Eastern Europe as the Second World War loomed.

In the initial secret protocol and a follow-on arrangement, it was agreed that Poland was to be shared, and Estonia, eastern Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and parts of Romania were all to be ceded to Soviet influence. Vyacheslav Molotov signed for the Soviets, Joachim von Ribbentrop for the Nazis.

Soon after it was done, the Second World War began in earnest; within days, Hitler sent troops into Poland. The following year Stalin, who had followed Hitler into Poland, annexed the Baltic states to Moscow’s west.

Russia’s new exhibition is seen as an attempt to normalize a pact it says it had no option but to strike, because attempts to work with the West had failed. But Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania have all used the pact’s anniversary to repeat their view that Molotov-Ribbentrop was a cynical deal that ushered in decades of death, displacement and totalitarianism. “August 23 will mark 80 years since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery,” they said in a joint statement this week.

“The Pact contained the secret protocol which effectively carved up Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.

“This is why on this day proclaimed by the European Parliament as a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes we remember all those whose deaths and broken lives were a consequence of the crimes perpetrated under the ideology of Nazism and Stalinism. “Pain and injustice will never fall into oblivion. We will remember.”

For decades, Russia refused to explicitly confirm that a secret Molotov-Ribbentrop protocol existed; Stalin in 1948 published “The Falsifiers of History,” a rebuttal to U.S. revelations about the deal. It was only in the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union was crumbling, that Russia admitted that “without a doubt” the protocol had existed. Even then, Soviet politicians wouldn’t admit that the pact shaped what became the later borders of the Soviet Union.
Russia under Vladimir Putin has sought to downplay the negatives and boost what it says were the positives of Molotov-Ribbentrop. It let Russia stall a war with Hitler, Russia’s narrative goes. It also stopped, they say, a possible pact between Hitler and the West, aimed at them.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the BBC reports, said at the new exhibition’s opening that Russia was forced to deal with Hitler to cover its own back. “Naively calculating that the war would pass them by, the Western powers played a double game. They tried to steer Hitler’s aggression eastwards. In those conditions, the USSR had to safeguard its own national security by itself,” Lavrov said.

In the Molotov-Ribbentrop display at the State Archives in Moscow, space is also set aside for the controversial Munich agreement of September 1938, the Guardian reports. After Munich, British leader Neville Chamberlain was condemned for Nazi appeasement. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


For Further Reference:


De Blasio Blamed the ‘Right-Wing Movement’ for NYC Anti-Semitic Attacks, but Jewish leaders are Looking Elsewhere for Explanations: Jeffrey Cimmino, Washington Examiner, Sept. 5, 2019 — Months after a sudden surge of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City, Jewish community leaders are still struggling to identify a clear cause for the jump.

Report: Anti-Semitic Incidents in US Remain Near Historic Levels in 2018 Masood Farivar, VOA, Apr. 30, 2019 — Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in the United States remained near historic levels in 2018, with physical assaults on adherents of the Jewish faith doubling, the Anti-Defamation League reported Tuesday.
WATCH: What’s Happening to European Jews better Wake Up America: Avi Abelow, Israel Unwired, July 18, 2019 — Although antisemitism in Europe is nothing new, it has only gotten worse. These statistics reveal the frightening truth. European Jews are targeted.
Ten Ways The Palestinians Failed To Move Toward A State During Oslo: Yair Hirschfeld’s Critique Of Seth Anziska’s Preventing Palestine Yair Hirschfeld, Fathom Journal, June 2019 — Seth Anziska and I have much in common. We are both non-conformist, independent thinkers committed to Jewish values, and struggling for decency in a complex and often immoral world.
This week’s Friday French-language Briefing is titled:  Communiqué Isranet: Front Libanais: Israël Prend la Menaces du Hezbollah au Sérieux (6 septembre 2019)
      CIJR wishes our friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom