Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 1, 2016: The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable.
Jews Can be Anti-Semites Too!: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 28, 2016 — In a worldwide anti-Semitism competition for Jews, Gilad Atzmon would probably represent Great Britain.
In Honor of Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands: Letter from a Forgotten Jew: David Harris, Huffington Post, Nov. 29, 2016— I am a forgotten Jew.
50 Years Ago, ‘Mud Angels’ Came to Flooded Florence to Save Centuries of Jewish History: Rossella Tercatin, Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2016 — On the morning of Friday, November 4, 1966, 18-year-old Andrea Belgrado was fast asleep in his family’s home across the street from the Great Synagogue of Florence.
A View from Iraq & Syria (Prof. Frederick Krantz & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari Discuss the Issues Facing Middle East Christians): The Hagmann Report, Dec. 1, 2016
Obama Administration Turns Palestinian-American Terrorist Into Victim: Stephen Flatlow, Algemeiner, Dec. 1, 2016
Ryerson Students Stage Walkout Over Holocaust Education Motion : Jodie Shupac, CJN, Dec. 1, 2016
The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism: Rabbi Sacks, rabbisacks.org, Sept. 27, 2016
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review, Dec. 1, 2016
The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable. Even the best-laid political plans can lead to unintended consequences, both good and bad — what we sometimes call irony, nemesis, or karma. Take the election of 2008, which ushered Barack Obama and the Democrats into absolute control of the presidency, House, and Senate, also generating popular goodwill over Obama’s landmark candidacy.
Instead of ensuring a heralded generation of Democratic rule, Obama alienated both friends and foes almost immediately. He rammed through the unworkable Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. He prevaricated about Obamacare’s costs and savings. Huge budget deficits followed. Racial polarization ensued. Apologies abroad on behalf of America proved a national turnoff.
By the final pushback of 2016, the Obama administration had proven to be a rare gift to the Republican party. The GOP now controls the presidency, Congress, governorships, and state legislatures to a degree not seen since the 1920s. “Hope and change” ebullition in 2008 brought the Republicans salvation — and the Democrats countless disasters. The Republican establishment hated Donald Trump. So did the conservative media. His unorthodox positions on trade, immigration, and entitlements alienated many. His vulgarity turned off even more. Pundits warned that he had brought civil war and ruin to the Republican party.
But instead of ruin, Trump delivered to the Republicans their most astounding political edge in nearly a century. The candidate who was most despised by the party unified it in a way no other nominee could have. Obama proved Israel’s best friend — even though that was never his intention. By simultaneously alienating Israel and the Sunni moderates in Jordan and Egypt, and by warming up to the Muslim Brotherhood, appeasing Iran, and issuing empty red lines to the Assad regime in Syria, Obama infuriated but also united the entire so-called moderate Middle East.
The result was that Arab nations suddenly no longer saw Israel as an existential threat. Instead, it was seen as similarly shunned by the U.S. — and as the only military power capable of standing up to the soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy in Iran that hates Sunni Arabs and Israelis alike. Today, Israel is in the historic position of being courted by its former enemies, as foreign fuel importers line up to buy its huge, newly discovered deposits of natural gas. As the Arab Spring and the Islamic State destroyed neighboring nations, Israel’s democracy and free market appeared as an even stronger beacon in the storm. Almost every major initiative that Obama pushed has largely failed. Obamacare is a mess. He nearly doubled the national debt in eight years. Economic growth is at its slowest in decades. The reset with Russia, the Asian pivot, abruptly leaving Iraq, discounting the Islamic State, red lines in Syria, the Iran deal — all proved foreign-policy disasters.
Yet Obama has been quiet about one of the greatest economic revolutions in American history, one that has kept the U.S. economy afloat: a radical transformation from crippling energy dependency to veritable fossil-fuel independence. The United States has become the world’s greatest combined producer of coal, natural gas, and oil. It is poised to be an energy exporter to much of the world. The revolution in fracking and horizontal drilling has brought in much-needed federal revenue, increased jobs, weakened Russia and our OPEC rivals, and given trillions of dollars in fuel savings to American consumers. Yet Obama opposed the energy revolution at every step. He radically curtailed the leasing of federal lands for new drilling, stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, and subsidized inefficient and often crony-capitalist wind and solar projects. Nonetheless, Obama’s eventual failure to stop new drilling ended up his one success.
Hillary Clinton, in her presidential bid, did everything by the playbook — and therefore her campaign went catastrophically wrong. Her campaign raised more than $1 billion. She ran far more ads than did Trump. She won over the sycophantic press. She got all the celebrity endorsements. She united the Democratic party. Logically, Clinton should have won. The media worked hand in glove with her campaign. Her ground game and voter registration drives made Trump’s look pathetic. More Trump Administration ‘Clever Fox’ Mattis Keith Ellison’s Bad Week General Mattis Is a Great Man — and a Good One Yet all that money, press, and orthodoxy only confirmed suspicions that Clinton was a slick but wooden candidate. She became so scripted that even her Twitter feed was composed by a committee.
The more she followed her boring narrative, the more she made the amateur Trump seem authentic and energized in comparison. Doing everything right ended up for Hillary as doing everything wrong — and ensured the greatest upset in American political history. The ancient Greeks taught us that arrogance brings payback, that nothing is sure in a fickle universe, that none of us can be judged successful and happy until we die, and that moderation and humility alone protect us from own darker sides. In 2016, what could never have happened usually did.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
Arutz Sheva, Nov. 28, 2016
In a worldwide anti-Semitism competition for Jews, Gilad Atzmon would probably represent Great Britain. The slurs published by this musician, an Israeli who says he has torn up his passport, are so major that even the Palestinian Electronic Intifada site has dissociated itself from his anti-Semitism. The analysis of his statements can thus serve as a paradigm for similar assessments of fallacious smears by Jewish anti-Semites.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is an appropriate tool to analyze the publications of this serial defamer of Israel and the Jews. The definition needed the agreement of its 31 member countries — among them Great Britain. The IHRA definition says that it is anti-Semitic to accuse “the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.” The definition includes that it is anti-Semitic to “draw comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Atzmon derides the Holocaust and its survivors in an article titled “After all, I am a proper Zionist Jew…I am a Holocaust Survivor,” where he writes, “Yes, I am a survivor, for I have managed to survive all of the scary accounts of the Holocaust.” He adds: “I am also totally against Holocaust denial. I clearly resent those who deny the genocides taking place in the name of the Holocaust. Palestine is one example…”
Atzmon often also sets his sights on so-called Jewish “progressives.” These include the Jewish anti-Zionist left. He attacks, for instance, the American Max Blumenthal, who has repeatedly made comparisons between Israel and Nazis. In an article titled “Goyim Must Obey,” Atzmon accuses the Jewish anti-Zionists of telling “Goyim and even Palestinians what they may or may not do and who they may or may not listen to” just like the world-controlling chosen people in the first place. He adds “maybe telling Goyim of all ages and ranks what they "must" do is just part of being chosen – (I’m not chosen anymore so I can’t say)” he adds. This ensures that no one can mistake Atzmon’s anti-Semitism for “legitimate criticism of Israel under the assertion that “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”
Atzmon’s views are classic anti-Semitism in line with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, whose veracity he defends. Atzmon even attacks Jews who completely disavow Judaism and Zionism. One is Shlomo Sand – an Israeli historian and self-described ex-Jew who wrote The Invention of the Jewish People. Another is Avigail Abarbanel – a former Israeli who is now a pro-Palestinian activist and writer for the anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, and a psychotherapist in Australia. According to Atzmon they are still infected with “kosher binary thinking” and continued attachment to Jewish tribalism, as well as an obsession with the Holocaust.
He also claims that Abarbanel refuses to be introspective enough to “look in the mirror and identify what is it about them (Jews) that evokes so much animosity in so many different times and in so many different places…something Bernard Lazare, an early Zionist did…” Lazare, who died more than hundred years ago, made many self-hating comments in his analysis of anti-Semitism. The IHRA definition says that “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions, is an example of anti-Semitism.”
Some of Atzmon’s remarks fall in this category of the IHRA definition when he asks: “Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past?” He answers his own question with “The progressive Jew grasps that the working class are nostalgic for a pre-Jerusalem Dominated society; a time when American politics weren’t controlled by the likes of Saban, Soros, Goldman Sachs and other global capitalists who are isolated from production, manufacturing and farming.” Jewish conspiracy and Jewish power are a staple of Atzmon’s mendacious smears. He writes: “Jewish power is the power to silence criticism of Jewish power… and explicates further, “For people who live in the USA, Britain and France, Jewish Power is the medium through which our politics is taking place.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Huffington Post, Nov. 29, 2016
I am a forgotten Jew. My roots are nearly 2,600 years old, my ancestors made landmark contributions to world civilization, and my presence was felt from North Africa to the Fertile Crescent — but I barely exist today. You see, I am a Jew from the Arab world. No, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve fallen into a semantic trap. I predated the Arab conquest in just about every country in which I lived. When Arab invaders conquered North Africa, for example, I had already been present there for more than six centuries.
Today, you cannot find a trace of me in most of this vast region. Try seeking me out in Iraq. Remember the Babylonian exile from ancient Judea, following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE? Remember the vibrant Jewish community that emerged there and produced the Babylonian Talmud? Do you know that in the ninth century, under Muslim rule, we Jews in Iraq were forced to wear a distinctive yellow patch on our clothing — a precursor of the infamous Nazi yellow badge — and faced other discriminatory measures? Or that in the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, we faced onerous taxes, the destruction of several synagogues, and severe repression?
And I wonder if you have ever heard of the Farhud, the breakdown of law and order, in Baghdad in June 1941. As an AJC specialist, George Gruen, reported: “In a spasm of uncontrolled violence, between 170 and 180 Jews were killed, more than 900 were wounded, and 14,500 Jews sustained material losses through the looting or destruction of their stores and homes. Although the government eventually restored order… Jews were squeezed out of government employment, limited in schools, and subjected to imprisonment, heavy fines, or sequestration of their property on the flimsiest of charges of being connected to either or both of the two banned movements. Indeed, Communism and Zionism were frequently equated in the statutes. In Iraq the mere receipt of a letter from a Jew in Palestine [pre-1948] was sufficient to bring about arrest and loss of property.”
At our peak, we were 135,000 Jews in 1948, and we were a vitally important factor in virtually every aspect of Iraqi society. To illustrate our role, here is what the Encyclopedia Judaica wrote about Iraqi Jewry: “During the 20th century, Jewish intellectuals, authors, and poets made an important contribution to the Arabic language and literature by writing books and numerous essays.” By 1950 other Iraqi Jews and I were faced with the revocation of citizenship, seizure of assets, and, most ominously, public hangings. A year earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Sa’id had told the British ambassador in Amman of a plan to expel the entire Jewish community and place us at Jordan’s doorstep. The ambassador later recounted the episode in a memoir entitled From the Wings: Amman Memoirs, 1947-1951.
Miraculously, in 1951 about 100,000 of us got out, thanks to the extraordinary help of Israel, but with little more than the clothes on our backs. The Israelis dubbed the rescue Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. Those of us who stayed lived in perpetual fear — fear of violence and more public hangings, as occurred on January 27, 1969, when nine Jews were hanged in the center of Baghdad on trumped-up charges, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis wildly cheered the executions. The rest of us got out one way or another, including friends of mine who found safety in Iran when it was ruled by the Shah.
Now there are no Jews left to speak of, nor are there monuments, museums, or other reminders of our presence on Iraqi soil for twenty-six centuries. Do the textbooks used in Iraqi schools today refer to our one-time presence, to our positive contribution to the evolution of Iraqi society and culture? Not a chance. 2,600 years are erased, wiped out, as if they never happened. Can you put yourself in my shoes and feel the excruciating pain of loss and invisibility?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2016
On the morning of Friday, November 4, 1966, 18-year-old Andrea Belgrado was fast asleep in his family’s home across the street from the Great Synagogue of Florence. It was the Italian national holiday marking the World War I armistice, and like most teenagers, Belgrado was taking advantage of the occasion to sleep in.
But his dreams came to an abrupt end when his father — Fernando Belgrado, the chief rabbi of Florence — woke him up and rushed him to the synagogue. Rumors were flying that the Arno River had flooded its banks and its waters had started to cover the city. “In the beginning, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but suddenly the manhole in front of the synagogue burst open and started to spew liters and liters of water. At that point we understood that the situation was serious,” Andrea Belgrado recalls in a phone conversation with The Times of Israel.
Together with a couple of other people, Belgrado and his father began to remove some of the Torah scrolls from the ark and carry them to the women’s section upstairs. “However the water level continued rising, coming from the main entrance as well as from the back of the synagogue. When it reached our thighs, my father stopped us, reminding us that the Jewish tradition values nothing greater than human life. Therefore, we left to get out of harm’s way,” Belgrado says. It was the beginning of the flood that marked Florence’s worst natural catastrophe in modern times, turning the city into what the Italian national press agency described as “a boundless lake immersed in darkness.”
In some neighborhoods, the water reached up to five meters (16 feet) high — and almost two meters (six feet) in the synagogue — covering houses and stores. The flood water savaged monuments and artistic sites renowned the world over, such as the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio and the Basilica di Santa Croce, dragging along with it cars, bicycles and all kind of debris. Over 30 people lost their lives, thousands their homes, tens of thousands were left without electricity, gas, running water. And a million books were devastated, including 15,000 Jewish books and manuscripts located in the Jewish community library and archives, along with 90 Torah scrolls that were kept in the several holy arks in the synagogue building.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Arno Flood, some of these books, together with Judaica objects, are featured in the exhibit “And the Waters Subsided” (named for the verse in Genesis 8:1 describing the aftermath of the biblical Noah’s flood). The exhibit was launched at the end of October at the National Library of Florence, and will run until January 27, 2017. “I remember walking from my house to the synagogue on Shabbat morning. I can still feel the silence of that day, the deep silence, and the dark, with everything covered in black mud,” recalls Umberto Di Gioacchino, who was 25 years old and worked as the secretary of the local Jewish school at the time of the flood.
During the night between Friday and Saturday, the waters had in fact receded, leaving behind a thick layer of mud mixed with sewage and diesel oil leaked from damaged boilers and heating systems. By this time, the citizens of Florence had started to react, helped by thousands of young people who flocked to Tuscany from all over Italy and the world to assist the population in need and save the unique artistic heritage of the area. They were the so called “mud angels,” as journalist Giovanni Grazzini described them in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Among them were also many Jews who wanted to help the Jewish community of Florence recover and preserve the treasure trove of books, scrolls and artifacts accumulated over the centuries through donations and bequests. “I went to Florence with a group of friends from the Jewish Youth Center in Milan. We had graduated high school a few months before, and we felt it was important to give our contribution. The moment we got there, they gave us blotting paper to insert between the pages of the books. There were thousands of them, all taken out on the tables in the attempt to have them dry. It was a deeply saddening view,” recalls Cecilia Nizza from Milan.
The sight of the devastation wrought in the synagogue would soon bring about even more tragic consequences. A contingent of young men from the Jewish community of Rome had also come to Florence. Among them was Luciano Camerino, a Holocaust survivor — one of just 16 who made it back alive after the infamous October 16, 1943 Nazi raid on the Rome ghetto. When he saw the shocking situation in the synagogue, Camerino suffered a heart attack and died that night in the hospital at the age of 40.
As the volunteers worked hard to clean the synagogue of the pervading mud, the dozens of parchment Torah scrolls were unrolled and spread out to dry. They were later transported to the Great Synagogue in Rome to be hung out in a cleaner, less-humid environment. Almost all of the scrolls were eventually deemed too severely damaged to be saved, and in September 1987 they were buried in the Jewish cemetery of Rifredi in Florence, according to the Jewish tradition for damaged holy texts. Only three of the Torahs were kept and restored — albeit not for ritual use — and are now part of the exhibition…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
A View from Iraq & Syria (Prof. Frederick Krantz & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari discuss the issues facing Middle East Christians): The Hagmann Report, Dec. 1, 2016—Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari (Near East Center For Strategic Management) discuss the issues facing Middle East Christians on The Hagmann Report radio program.
Obama Administration Turns Palestinian-American Terrorist Into Victim: Stephen Flatlow, Algemeiner, Dec. 1, 2016—After years of silence, the Obama administration has finally spoken out about an American citizen who was killed in Israel. There’s just one catch: The focus of the administration’s sudden concern is not for an American who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. Its focus is a Palestinian-American terrorist who tried to murder Israelis.
Ryerson Students Stage Walkout Over Holocaust Education Motion : Jodie Shupac, CJN, Dec. 1, 2016—Jewish groups allege that naked anti-Semitism was behind what they say was a walkout at a Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) meeting staged by Muslim and pro-Palestinian students that stymied a motion to commemorate Holocaust Education Week.
The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism: Rabbi Sacks, rabbisacks.org, Sept. 27, 2016—Transcript of a speech by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at “The Future of the Jewish Communities in Europe” Conference at The European Parliament on 27th September 2016 in Brussels.