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YEAR IN REVIEW: PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE TOPS LIST OF ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS

Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Tops Wiesenthal Center List of 2018’s Worst Antisemitic Outrages: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 25, 2018— 2018 will be remembered as the year when the word “antisemitism” became a constant feature of the global news cycle…

Successes in the Fight Against Antisemitism: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 25, 2018— In 2018, there were a variety of important actions against antisemitism.

Agenda for 2019: Defend Jewish Interests, Not Partisanship: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Dec. 27, 2018— 2018 will go down as a year in which hyper-partisanship reached new heights in the United States.

Some Predictions for the Exciting Year to Come: Conrad Black, National Post, Dec. 21, 2018 — It is time for a few predictions for 2019.

On Topic Links

Amos Oz, Israeli Author and Peace Advocate, Dies at 79: New York Times, Dec. 28, 2018

The Top 10 Worst UN Actions of 2018: UN Watch Briefing, Dec. 27, 2018

Best of 2018: 15 ‘Superhero’ Israeli Startups Changing The World: Diana Rabba, NoCamels, Dec. 27, 2018

Ortona, 75 Years Later: The Tragedy of Canada’s ‘Little Stalingrad’: Eric Reguly & Shawn McCarthy, Globe & Mail, Dec. 26, 2018

 

 

PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE TOPS WIESENTHAL CENTER LIST OF 2018’S WORST ANTISEMITIC OUTRAGES

Ben Cohen

Algemeiner, Dec. 25, 2018

2018 will be remembered as the year when the word “antisemitism” became a constant feature of the global news cycle, with reports of outrages against Jewish communities around the world, many of them violent, on a near-daily basis. Fittingly, the annual list of the top 10 anti-Jewish incidents released on Tuesday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) — the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization — was a disturbing mix of deadly new challenges alongside the re-appearance of several well-known offenders.

Unsurprisingly, the SWC placed the Oct. 27 massacre of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue at the top of its 2018 list. The most lethal attack on Jews in the history of the US was carried out by a neo-Nazi gunman, Robert Bowers, who entered the city’s Tree of Life synagogue brandishing an assault rifle and three handguns while screaming “All Jews must die!” Addressing the national sense of bewilderment that American Jews would be the target of an unprecedented atrocity like the one in Pittsburgh, the SWC asked: “Why now?” The group continued: “With hate crimes on the rise in the U.S., including a 57 percent rise in antisemitic incidents, the shooting in Pittsburgh illustrates the dangers of a society in which openly espousing hatred and intolerance on social media — and in the real world — are no longer taboo.”

In a further acknowledgement of rising antisemitism in America, the veteran Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — who last made the SWC’s top-10 list in 2012 — came in at number two this year, while the spate of swastikas appearing on US college campuses appeared at number three. Charging the 85-year-old Farrakhan with “deploying Nazi propaganda,” the SWC highlighted the NoI chief’s “slanderous attack” in an October speech comparing Jews with “termites.”

“Throughout the 1930s, before the Holocaust, Nazi propaganda serially demonized Jews as vermin and rats, seeking to dehumanize German Jews in the eyes of their neighbors,” the SWC said. “In May, Farrakhan lost his Twitter account status after ranting about ‘satanic Jews’ during a three-hour speech. Despite all this and Farrakhan’s screaming ‘Death to America’ during a visit to Iran, he received a seat of honor in August at the funeral of Aretha Franklin, near former President Bill Clinton. The vile Farrakhan continues to draw accolades from the founders of the Women’s March on Washington, many elected officials and members of the entertainment community.”

British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn — who is fast becoming a fixture of the SWC’s annual list, having first appeared in 2015 — came in at number four. Corbyn was accused of being “directly responsible” for the wave of antisemitism that has enveloped his party in the three years since he was elected leader. “In July, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers published a joint article warning of ‘the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Corbyn government,’” the SWC stated. “A poll conducted at the end of summer concluded that 40% of the Jewish community would consider leaving the UK if Labour took the election.” That outcome looks increasingly possible in 2019, as the UK teeters on the edge of a disastrous exit from the European Union with no deal with Brussels in place.

Antisemitism fused with hatred of Israel was another strong theme in 2018’s list. UNRWA — the UN refugee agency dedicated to the descendants of the Palestinian refugees of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence — came in at number five, denounced by the SWC as a “de facto enabler of Hamas’ terrorist fiefdom in Gaza.” The international accommodation agency Airbnb, which enables travelers to rent short-term apartments and houses around the world, came in at number six, over its decision in November to ban listings in Israeli communities in the West Bank. “The Wiesenthal Center is urging its 400,000 members to book their travel elsewhere,” the SWC said.

At number seven was Germany’s Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (“Bank for Social Economy”) for its continuing provision of banking services to groups supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. “The prominent German LGBT organization, Magnus Hirschfeld, named after a victim of the Holocaust, cancelled its account with the bank to protest the bank’s pro-BDS business,” the SWC reported. “Protests from the leadership of German Jewry have fallen on deaf ears, while two pro-Israel organizations in Germany, Keren haYesod and the Jewish National Fund, have canceled and closed accounts linked to the bank.”

Episcopalian Bishop Gayle Harris of Massachusetts was listed at number eight, after she falsely claimed last July that she had personally witnessed Israeli soldiers arresting a three-year-old Palestinian child and shooting a Palestinian teenager in the back. Harris admitted that she fabricated the incidents after being pressed by the SWC, saying that she had been “ill-advised to repeat the stories without verification.”

Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institute, which announces the annual Nobel Prize in Medicine, made the SWC list in 2018 at number nine for far less edifying reasons. “The head of neurosurgery has systematically discriminated against three Jewish doctors, blocking them from helping their patients and even hindering continued research at the Institute,” the SWC said. “Two of the doctors left the hospital, fed up with the intimidation and discrimination. But when the neurosurgery department head posted blatant antisemitism on his Facebook page, the Wiesenthal Center was asked to intervene.” The SWC added that despite a meeting between Rabbi Abraham Cooper, its associate dean, and the hospital’s CEO, “the scandal remains unresolved after 11 months.”

Coming at number ten was another familiar figure — the former Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters, arguably the most well-known musician promoting the BDS campaign. “Waters, whose signature pig (adorned with a Star of David) floats above his concerts across Europe, was confronted by protesters in Latin and South America,” the SWC stated. “He continues to pressure fellow entertainers to boycott the Jewish state.”

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SUCCESSES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM                                                                   Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 25, 2018

In 2018, there were a variety of important actions against antisemitism. Summarizing the main ones at the end of the year provides some counterweight to the annual report of the worst antisemitic incidents — regularly increasing in pages — published now for a number of years by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

 

One important development is the expanding acceptance of the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA). One cannot try to fight antisemitism effectively unless there is a common measure of what it entails. By now the IHRA antisemitism definition had been formally adopted for internal use by the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania and the formerly Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It has also been accepted by a wide array of others such as universities and towns including the cities of London and Berlin.

A second substantial development was successes in the fight against the BDS movement which aims to delegitimize the State of Israel. Legal measures play an important role in hampering BDS. In November 2018, Kentucky became the 26th American state to pass legislation to ban awarding state contracts to companies that endorse the BDS movement. The governors of all 50 US states have signed a declaration condemning the BDS movement as antithetical to American values. Chile has recently forbidden its municipalities to boycott Israel by aligning themselves with the BDS movement as a reason not to conduct business with Israel. Various municipalities in Spain have also tried to apply BDS to their practices. However, a number of courts have voided these measures, for instance, in Barcelona.

Yet another positive development is the appointment of antisemitism commissioners in Germany. This occurred at the national level but also in a variety of federal states. National commissioner Felix Klein has already addressed many aspects and incidents of antisemitism in Germany. He has, for instance, indicated that he intends to tackle the political distortion of reported statistics of antisemitic acts. Crimes against Jews by unknown perpetrators are registered as having been committed by extreme right-wingers, while attacks on Jews by Muslims are far more numerous than what is recorded. Among the state commissioners, Ludwig Spaenle of Bavaria has initiated a monitoring function that is slated to become operational next year.

The European Commission had already in 2015 appointed Katharina von Schnurbein as the coordinator for combating antisemitism. She has undertaken various initiatives, however has not been given anywhere near adequate resources to fulfill her task in exposing the massive antisemitism among the more than 500 million EU citizens. A fourth important development is the increasing assurance of the security of synagogues and other Jewish institutions. Switzerland has been extremely negligent in this area. Finally this year, the first Swiss city, Basel, belatedly decided to join this process and assign police officers to guard the synagogue. This is an important precedent and challenge for other towns in the country.

A fifth important development is the publication of additional studies on antisemitism. In December, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released a report it claims is the largest study on antisemitism ever undertaken. It investigated twelve European Union countries and is titled: “Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism.” The study found that the most common antisemitic statement encountered by Jews in Europe is that Israelis behave like Nazis toward the Palestinians. Muslim antisemitism is mentioned as the dominant identified source of harassment of Jews in Europe. It is followed by left-wing antisemitism and right-wing antisemitism. It is a Europe-wide problem that due to poor follow up, most victims of antisemitic incidents do not complain to the authorities.

There are many other incidental or smaller issues of importance. One was a French manifesto against Muslim antisemitism that was signed by 250 Jewish and non-Jewish personalities. This document sums up the main elements of violence and incitement against Jews emanating from parts of this immigrant community. One can only hope next year others will follow in those footsteps and expose what a variety of European governments try to hide or whitewash. Fifteen years too late, French President Emmanuel Macron has formally accepted that the murder of Jewish disk jockey DJ Sebastien Sellam in 2003 by a Muslim neighbor was an antisemitic act.

The Council of the European Union (EU) approved the first declaration of its kind to fight antisemitism and strengthen the security of Jewish communities in Europe. Outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley castigated the UN saying, “We will not tolerate a situation that a world body of 198 countries can spend half their time attacking one country: Israel.” British media such as The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph have exposed the substantial antisemitism in the British Labour Party, which is led by Jeremy Corbyn, a friend of genocidal terrorists, associate of Holocaust deniers, anti-Israel inciter and part-time antisemite.

There are many other meritorious acts against antisemitism by individuals. Alyssa Milano refused to speak at the Women’s March in the US after two of its leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour refused to break ties with the leading US antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Another important development was the firing of extreme anti-Israel inciter Marc Lamont, by CNN. It should become a tradition to not only publish major antisemitic slurs at the end of each year. There is now also a possibility to publish successes in the fight against antisemitism.

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AGENDA FOR 2019: DEFEND JEWISH INTERESTS, NOT PARTISANSHIP

Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, Dec. 27, 2018

2018 will go down as a year in which hyper-partisanship reached new heights in the United States. Those on one side of the divide blame it all on Donald Trump. His supporters blame it on the “resistance.” But as the secular calendar year ends and a new one begins, it’s time to think about the role many of us have played in worsening the situation. The problem is not that Americans are divided on the issues. There’s nothing new about that. The problem is that those disagreements have escalated beyond the normal contention that is, like it or not, part and parcel of life in a democracy. While most venerate the notion of compromise and pay tribute to gestures of bipartisanship, there is nothing wrong with sharp and even bitter disagreements in a free society.

But as we look back on the events of the past 12 months, among the most dangerous trends in Jewish life was the growing willingness of Jews to prioritize their partisan loyalties over those of their community. I’ve written repeatedly about how some on the left have chosen to ignore the growing and increasingly loud instances of antisemitism on that end of the ideological spectrum. The willingness of some Jewish liberals to ignore the antisemitism that exists on the left is a disgrace. By that I refer to both the BDS movement, which is steeped in Jew-hatred, as well as the willingness of some to wink or excuse the blatant antisemitism of the leaders of the Women’s March, the group that organized the largest protests against Trump.

The danger here is that some Jews who wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead in an alliance with open antisemites are so angered by Trump that they are willing to make common cause with anyone who shares that sentiment. So when a group like the National Council of Jewish Women isn’t prepared to stop working with the Women’s March — in spite of the fact that its most visible members are supporters of hatemonger Louis Farrakhan, and have reportedly been caught spreading his lies about Jews — that should scare you no matter where you stand on Trump. The same criticism should apply to Jewish groups willing to embrace the two newcomers to the House of Representatives who are open supporters of BDS — Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — simply because of party affiliation.

But while Jewish conservatives have rightly chided liberals about this, in the last week we’ve learned that some of them are capable of making the exact same kind of error and for the same unacceptable reason: partisanship. Last week’s decision by Trump to withdraw US troops from Syria showed that he is still a welter of contradictory impulses that can sometimes lead him to do the right thing (moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal), but, as with Syria, can just as easily impel him to make a terrible mistake. The move is good for ISIS, which has been badly beaten, but is by no means finished and can easily be revived by a George W. Bush-style “mission accomplished” blunder based on Trump’s abhorrence for nation-building. It also is good for Iran, which saw the US presence as an obstacle to its bid for regional hegemony; good for Turkey, which hopes to use this opportunity to wipe out the Kurds, who have been America’s brave allies in the fight against ISIS; and very bad for Israel, which now finds itself more isolated just at the moment when its northern front has started to look even more dangerous.

The point here is not so much that Trump is wrong, but that too many of his Jewish supporters are so deeply immersed in the partisan battle against his opponents that they are unwilling to speak out against a policy that they wouldn’t have hesitated to criticize if it was a Democrat ordering the pullout. Many on the Jewish right have tied themselves in knots as they sought to justify the unjustifiable by claiming that Trump’s moves are good for Israel, even though the president resorting to his neo-isolationist tendencies on foreign policy is a potential disaster for the Jewish state. That they have done so even after we’ve learned that the decision was preceded by a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also discouraging, because pleasing Erdogan is the last thing those who support the interests of the United States or the Jewish state should want. Yet they’ve either kept silent or resorted to disingenuous and contradictory arguments that are as unpersuasive as they are embarrassing.

They, like their liberal co-religionists, are part of a political culture in which there is no middle ground, and in which every event or policy is evaluated solely through the prism of being pro- or anti-Trump. But just as it was wrong for some friends of Israel to oppose the president’s laudable gesture on Jerusalem and his decision on the Iran deal simply because they despise him, so too is it dead wrong to give Trump a pass on Syria because you may have liked other things he’s done…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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SOME PREDICTIONS FOR THE EXCITING YEAR TO COME

Conrad Black                                           

National Post, Dec. 21, 2018

It is time for a few predictions for 2019. I’ll confine myself to political and economic matters. The economic picture in Canada will be satisfactory enough as we receive the customary spinoff from a continuing full-employment, non-inflationary economic boom in the U.S. That economy will grow at about three per cent (an additional US$700 billion of GDP, while the population grows by only half of one per cent). The U.S. workforce will continue to expand and the only unemployed people will be those changing jobs. The U.S. trade deficit will shrink by 50 per cent, energy imports will continue to decline, the federal deficit will be reduced by about a third. No one will remember the Obama “new normal” of flat-lined disposable income in buying power for the middle and working classes, two-per-cent economic growth at best, and the accompanying shrinkage of the work force, trillion-dollar federal deficits, and rising crime rates. With the Trump boom, Canadian public finances would have to be very severely mismanaged for this country not to do tolerably well. In keeping with Canada’s frequent incongruities in the appreciation of our fortunes, we will not moderate our disdain for President Trump, and will also fail to see that he is chiefly responsible for Canada’s relatively high standard of living.

It is relatively high, but it is impossible to be optimistic about Canada overhauling some of the countries whose standards of living (GDP divided by the population) have surged ahead of ours in the past 20 years, such as Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, and Austria. These setbacks have all been due to mismanagement in both the private and public sectors in this country. Fifty years ago, Ireland and Taiwan were poverty-stricken and had never known anything but poverty; Germany and the Netherlands had been rebuilt after the war, but the Dutch, like the Austrians, have almost no resources and Germany has had to assimilate the dead weight of the Communist economic and sociological basket case of East Germany. Australia is rich and unscarred by war, but not as rich as Canada, less populated, and not on the doorstep of the world’s greatest market. To be fair, the World Economic Forum (a distinctly fallible and in some respects ludicrous organization, but statistically thorough), rates Canada’s quality of life as exceeded only by Finland. All the G7 countries are in the Top 20, according to their three criteria: basic human needs (medical care, housing, sanitation); foundations of well-being (education and technology); and opportunity (social equality, legal system, general fairness).

…(I)t suffices that Canada by the usual criteria ranks very highly, and always has, and its leading cities, even by the most sophisticated standards, are very respectable. It is a splendid country, as we all know. But economically, we have lost ground, which is regrettable in itself, unnecessary, and potentially conducive to apologia-based theories that wealth is mitigated by evenness of distribution and that Canada is, the prime minster has said, a “post-national” country. Wealth and income disparity are legitimate issues, but we must be wary of weak excuses for inadequate economic growth, which is all that raises prosperity and finances creativity and all comforts. There is, of course, no such thing as a post-national country, and nor should any such concept be aspired to or even accepted. There are scores of pre-national countries; sovereign countries that have emerged from disbanded colonial empires or have languished as isolated sovereign states for long periods (Myanmar, Liberia, Paraguay), or been patched together in the chancelleries of the Great Powers without a thought to the ethnic and demographic facts on the ground. (All the countries created after the First World War have disintegrated: Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Syria and Iraq.) Canada has been at it for over 150 years, longer than any large country with continuous political institutions except the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. We have much to be proud of in our ancestors and ourselves, as well as to be grateful for in our circumstances, and post-nationalism could throw a lot of it away…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy New Year!

The Daily Briefing will return on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019

 

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On Topic Links

Amos Oz, Israeli Author and Peace Advocate, Dies at 79: New York Times, Dec. 28, 2018—Amos Oz, the renowned Israeli author whose work captured the characters and landscapes of his young nation, and who matured into a leading moral voice and an insistent advocate for peace with the Palestinians, died on Friday. He was 79.

The Top 10 Worst UN Actions of 2018: UN Watch Briefing, Dec. 27, 2018—In September 2018, Venezuela’s Maduro regime was legitimized in an official report by Alfred de Zayas, the UN Human Rights Council’s Cuban-sponsored expert on ensuring “a democratic and equitable international order.”

Best of 2018: 15 ‘Superhero’ Israeli Startups Changing The World: Diana Rabba, NoCamels, Dec. 27, 2018—Israel’s leading role as a breakthrough technological innovator spans across fields ranging from medical research and cybersecurity to automotive and robotics. The country’s know-how and entrepreneurial spirit also extend to social challenges and generally improving quality of life. In 2018, a number of Israeli initiatives have had a deep impact on the lives of people around the globe, and are on track to change the world with innovative solutions and services.

Ortona, 75 Years Later: The Tragedy of Canada’s ‘Little Stalingrad’: Eric Reguly & Shawn McCarthy, Globe & Mail, Dec. 26, 2018—The Canadian war monument in the heart of Ortona, the Italian city on the Adriatic coast, does not paint a picture of glory. It depicts a Canadian infantryman on his knees comforting a fallen comrade who lies before him, dying. The monument, installed in Ortona in 1999 by the battle’s Canadian veterans, is called the Price of Peace.