Category: OpEds

Antisemitism in Canada Skyrockets

The words “Gas the Jews,” and a Nazi swastika were spray-painted on the ground in Hamilton’s Escarpment Rail Trail, in Ontario, Canada. This incident is just the latest in a string of anti-Jewish hate crimes and vandalism that has occurred in Canada in the last few years.

Jews are the most heavily targeted group in Canada, with 33% of all hate crime listed as antisemitic in 2016. In 2015, Jews reported being harassed for wearing yarmulkes in public, and had their homes vandalized with antisemitic graffiti. The risk is growing. In April 2016, several Hassidic homes were vandalized. According to a report, one was destroyed due to arson.

In Montreal, more than 300 swastikas were spray-painted on buildings and public property during the last year. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian Jews (who compromise a mere 1% of the population) were the most targeted minority group in Canada and eight times more likely to be victims of a hate crime than Canadian Muslims, who make up 3% of the total population. In 2013, Canadian Muslims were victims of 6.2 hate crime incidents per 100,000 people while Canadian Jews experienced 54.9 incidents.

The growing wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and Canada is stronger then ever, and the public and government officials need to prevent and report these attacks.

Source: Times of Israel; CIJNews; Freebeacon

Image: Blograth.com

By: Ohad Barazani

Jewish Reporter Asks President Question on Antisemitism, is Shut Down

During President Donald Trump’s press conference last week, a Jewish reporter asked the President a question about the growing antisemitism across the U.S.

Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine, a publication that gears towards the Orthodox Jewish community asked the following:

“I haven’t seen anyone in my community or in my staff accusing you of being antisemitic, we understand that you have Jewish grandchildren…What we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard in your [presidential] address is an uptick in antisemitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing antisemitic acts or have threatened too…” Turx began and was interrupted by the President.

“Now he said he would ask a simple, easy question and it’s not. It’s not a simple question, it’s not a fair question, now sit down, stop talking, I understand the rest of the question. Number one, I am the least antisemitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person running…” Turx attempted to clarify his question and was interrupted with “quiet! quiet! now he said he was going to…ask a simple…question…sit down!”

Mistaken that the comment was an accusation against him, Trump responded “I hate the charge, I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people who know me …you heard the Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday…he said that he’s known Donald Trump for a long time, now take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.”

Turx answered: “We’re not accusing you of anything…” and was told repeatedly to be quiet.

Turx was asked later whether he thought the president’s conduct was inappropriate. Turx stated that he has worked with the Trump campaign in the past, in particular due to its strong ties to the Orthodox Jewish community and has not found any claims that Trump supported antisemitic views. Turx said he understands why Trump was so offended by the question and that he was “hopeful” that Trump’s comments showed he was “so committed against antisemitism” and hoped to work with the Jewish community to combat this phenomenon.

However, many in the Jewish community expressed disdain over the President’s attitude towards the Jewish reporter on national television, and claimed it sent a negative message to the Jewish community. Calls supporting President’s Trump terse speech with the Jewish reporter were cheered on Neo-Nazi websites.

Source: Fox News; Matzav Videos

By: Yafit Ovadia

Hate Crimes In NYC Targeting Jews Rise in 2017

A recent release by the New York Police Department last week showed an increase in hate crimes across New York, particularly those targeting Jews.

There were a total of 56 hate crimes reported in 2017 compared to last year, which only had 31 incidents in the same time period. Most of the crimes were antisemitic in nature, doubling from 13 incidents in 2016 to this year’s tally of 28.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) feels that the Trump campaign rhetoric is a large reason for this increase. He made previous statements condemning some of President Donald Trump’s campaign methods. “You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans negatively and not have ramifications for that,” stated de Blasio, blaming the Trump campaign’s often controversial statements.

It’s not surprising that hate crimes against Jewish people have spiraled. Although President Trump has condoned antisemitism, his support from Neo-Nazi groups, such as the “alt-right” has led to increased hate speech towards Jews.

Troubling data shows that 50% of all hate crimes committed in the U.S. today are antisemitic in nature. It is worrying that these attacks single out Jews. People must show awareness towards this growing phenomenon in order to rid the dangerous negativity, which has been directed towards Jews as of late.

Source: Politico, Times of Israel

Image: Google Images

by: Ohad Barazani

Man Sports Swastika Armband at University of Florida

A man wearing an all-black outfit with a red swastika armband was spotted on the University of Florida’s campus in Gainesville, Florida. This was his second appearance in a week. The first time he wore the swastika armband, no passerby commented, however the second time 100 students gathered in protest. They brought signs and guitars, some sang “I love you, I love you.” The swastika wearing man,who was later identified as Michael Dewitz remained on campus grounds for around 3 hours.

Dewitz claimed the public display of a swastika was meant to be a social experiment and said that he was “upset that the protesters were upset because they don’t understand my intentions.” Dewitz denied the negative intentions and claimed he did not mean to hurt anyone. Dewitz went to the religious center to look for a Chabad Rabbi on campus. On his way, he passed a student wearing a Jewish skullcap, kippah and gave him the Nazi salute. The student, Jacob Zieper was clearly intimidated.

Dewitz stated later that the Nazis were an “extremely organized, focused, distinguished organization that saved the world.” He also questioned the validity of the Holocaust, stating that, “disinformation was huge in World War II, so how can we know that any of that stuff can be verified? You do not know that your grandparents were necessarily in a concentration camp and if the Nazi’s were evil… [It is] actually…genetic nonsense and…ridiculous. That’s disinformation.”

By openly denying the Holocaust and siding with a fascist party, who commited genocide Dewitz violated campus behavior and should be arrested. His insitigation for violence is felt by his behavior, which is clearly meant to incite extreme reactions, although he claims it was not his intention. His praises for the Nazi Party are highly disturbing and promotes ignorance.  It is shocking how despite the plethora of evidence that the Holocaust took place, there are still those who deny it.

Source: Alligator

Image: Monica Humphries

By: Ohad Barazani

Anti-Semitic Calls Made After Trump’s Inauguration

During President Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration two week ago, Rabbi Marvin Hier, a close friend of Trump’s son-inlaw, Jared Kushner was given the stage to say a few words and in turn was met with hundreds of anti-Semitic comments on social media.

During the rabbi’s speech, he blessed the new president with the following words: “Eternal God, bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation…[and] all of our allies around the world who share our beliefs,” and concluded the prayer by making a reference to Jerusalem.

While some Jewish outlets criticized Heir for speaking at the inauguration, citing the increase in anti-Semitic behavior during Trump’s campiagn and support from Neo-Nazi parties, others interpreted the message as an olive branch from the new administration to the Jewish community.

Immediately after Heir’s speech, hundreds of anti-Semitic comments were made on multiple social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Some called to “light the Jew on fire,” or made references to Hitler and witchcraft, others called Jews “the enemies of America,” or crudely accused accused them of perpetrating 9/11.

Hier is the first rabbi to speak at a presidential inauguration since Reagan’s inauguration in 1985.

Source: The Times of Israel; Mako

Image: Twitter

By: Yafit Ovadia

Germany’s Education System and The Holocaust

Since the 1990s, German authorities have accepted and implemented several ways to commemorate the Jewish victims of the Holocaust: the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, the Stolperstein block signs, The Library monument, the Jewish museum in Berlin, Dechau, Buchenwald and many more. These spots have become popular tourist attractions, reminding others of the past. German schools take students to these sites to educate them about the atrocities committed years prior.

German students confirm that they first heard the term “Holocaust” between the ages 9-12. The subject is taught regularly starting in the fifth grade and is reviewed each year. A well-known approach is through individual stories, such as Anne Frank’s. The message becomes easier to grasp and less overwhelming.

From childhood through graduation, the Second World War is well integrated into the German educational curriculum. Due to the age gap among youth today, many feel distanced and disconnect from their grandparents’ generation. These often provoke negative feelings among youth, who are taught that Jews are normal people just like themselves, and are encouraged to accept all people regardless of race.

In order to compensate these negative feelings, many youth find consultation in volunteering mainly with refugees. Native Germans are allowed to volunteer in the nearest refugee center and offer to tutor refugees or donate money, food or clothes. Andy, 24  a volunteer from Koblenz, says he tries to integrate immigrants as much as possible into society, and encourages going to historical sites, watching movies or discussing with immigrants Germany’s role in the Holocaust. This spurs several Muslim youth to hold positive views about government.

Another initiative is a project called The Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP). This organization sends German youth to Israel and other countries to volunteer with Holocaust survivors. The project has been running since 1958 in countries that were harmed by the Nazis, with more than 1500 volunteers in Israel throughout the years. Feedback is positive as many Holocaust survivors treasure the opportunity to talk with someone in their mother tongue and often tell the young volunteers things that they never told their families. The survivors who great appreciation for the program and find it feels like home to many.

Source: Ynet

Image: ARSP

By: Roni Zedek

Setenta Países a Discutir el Futuro de Israel

Como una continuación de la resolución radical de la ONU, se reúnen en París 70 Estados para opinar y dar solución al Conflicto árabe – israelí, sin la presencia de los implicados.

Los últimos días del presidente Obama los dedicará a la ONU en París para debatir sobre el futuro de la creación de dos estados, la división de los Palestinos y los asentamientos que consideran ser el único obstáculo para la paz entre ambas naciones.

A una semana de la toma de posesión del nuevo presidente de los Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, la Cumbre de París con el Presidente Holland como anfitrión, afirma que el objetivo es “tratar de mostrar a Israel y a la Autoridad Nacional  Palestina la voluntad de la comunidad internacional de ayudarles a reanudar el proceso de paz (…), mostrarles que tenemos la máxima disposición a favorecer su reanudación”, explicó a RFI Romain Nadad, portavoz de la cancillería francesa.

Según el boletín informativo de asuntos diplomáticos de Francia, la Conferencia se centra en el conflicto árabe-israelí porque “la  situación en Israel y en los Territorios Palestinos empeora ante la falta de perspectiva de negociación. La solución de los dos Estados se enfrenta a amenazas cada vez mayores, como el mantenimiento de la construcción de colonias, pero también los problemas de seguridad de los habitantes de la zona. Las crisis que incendian Oriente Próximo (Siria, Irak y Yemen, por ejemplo) no han disminuido en lo más mínimo la importancia y el alcance simbólico del conflicto arabe-israelí. Es nuestra responsabilidad actuar para crear una dinámica política propicia para que se den nuevas negociaciones entre los propios palestinos e israelíes, y no negociar en lugar de las dos partes, lo que ni es posible ni es deseable.”

La urgencia por la toma de posesión de Donald Trump como presidente de los Estados Unidos y su intención de trasladar la embajada estadounidense de Tel Aviv a Jerusalén, ha provocado que los palestinos ganen la simpatía del gobierno francés y los países reunidos hoy en la conferencia por la paz del Medio Oriente, y tomen como tema principal de la agenda, el rechazo a los asentamientos y el regreso a las negociaciones.

La Conferencia ha sido rechazada por el gobierno israelí ya que es claro que la intención lejos de ser el comienzo del regreso a negociaciones, aleja aún más la posibilidad de un diálogo entre las dos partes.  El Primer Ministro biniamin Nataniahu condenó la Conferencia y opinó que es uno de los últimos intentos de Barack Obama de intervenir en las decisión de Israel. En un mensaje de Twitter difundido por el Ministerio de Exteriores de Israel, insta a conducirlo a las negociaciones directas.

El Tweet titulado “Ayude a Mahmud Abbás a encontrar el camino de la paz”,  consiste en un laberinto circular en cuyo centro aparece la palabra “PAZ” y que tiene dos entradas entre las que aparece el rostro del líder palestino.  Desde la primera entrada, llamada “Conferencia de París” es imposible llegar al centro, pero la segunda, “Negociaciones directas”, tiene el camino despejado hacia la paz.

Con esta ilustración, publicada a pocas horas de que comience la conferencia internacional, a la que no asistirán ni israelíes ni palestinos, Israel reitera su rechazo a la iniciativa francesa, al considerar que no conduce a ningún lado y despierta en los palestinos falsas expectativas.

Ni la búsqueda de la paz, ni la solución a un conflicto de largos años es en realidad la razón  al parecer de la reunión multinacional.  La proximidad de la toma de posesión del nuevo presidente de los Estados unidos Donald Trump y su declaración de trasladar la embajada, son la verdadera motivación de Mahmud Abbas al recurrir a los franceses y a la comunidad Internacional, buscando en ellos el apoyo que se le va poco a poco al despedirse Obama de la silla presidencial.

Fuentes: HispanTV, Twitter, Diplomatie

Imagen: Twitter

 

 

 

How Can Life Go On?

One might think, that being a Jew in England these days is safe and easy. Jews can carry out traditions of their faith in public, they are an integral part of the society in England. The ugly specter of anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. Antisemitism is a dark part of history, a part in which Jews were prosecuted solely for being Jews.

Anti-Semitism is alive and kicking in the UK. Holocaust denial is a real thing. Jews are targeted and victimized all over the country. University campuses, which were supposedly hububs of free speech and acceptance are in fact not that accepting. Messy scenes of vandalism and desecration of Jewish sites aren’t uncommon. Most of all, criticism of Israel seems to be a mere cover for criticism of Jews in general.

Recently, the Labour Party has had to suspend many of its members due to racist displays. Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn has secured support from the notorious Holocaust denier, David Irving who called him “impressive” and “a fine man”. Irving has claimed only a few Jews were killed by the Nazis and that the concentration camps were simply a hoax. He once compared the Auschwitz death camp to Disneyland.

Why is it that anti-Semitic incidents aren’t so rare in one of the most western countries, such as the U.K.? Why is it, that that a prominent Holocaust denier such as David Irving enjoys continuous and lately even growing support? Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial seem to be the fad on both the left and right.

This year National Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, 2017 holds the theme: “How can life go on?” How can life go on with the trauma and coming to terms with the loss? How can life go on with the displacement of the survivors and the refugees? How can life go on with remembering the travesties? But most of all, how can life go on with facing the hate, the denial and trivialization?

Historically Raphael Lemkin, a Jew whose family perished in the Holocaust was the first to coin the word genocide, the collective murder of an ethnic group sparked by hatred.Denial is the final stage of genocide. By denying the existence of a genocide which took place against the Jews in the 1940s, or even minimizing the atrocities, one agrees with and actually “participates” in a modern day genocide.

Holocaust deniers are not really concerned with the Holocaust, and not concerned with the truth either. Their sole focus is on Jews, and with their existence today.

 

Image: GPO, Haim Zach

By: Hadassah Schwartz

Jewish Community Centers Targeted Second Time in Week

Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. were targeted again on Wednesday with another incident occurring at a JCC in Staten Island, New York. Graffiti was reported  around nine am and consisted of two swastikas drawn next to the word ‘bomb’. This most recent occurrence follows a string of bomb threats made the previous week on sixteen Jewish Community Centers across six states and in the U.K.

Paul Goldenberg, Director of Secure Community Network said, “The calls were prerecorded in some cases and live in others, with the caller using voice disguising technology, and likely came from a single source.” All the threats were false, however Goldenberg suggested the intention of the threats were to produce disorder and distress.

Targeting Jewish Community Centers is unacceptable and inappropriate. These are not just small crimes; rather the threats are very severe. The danger of a bomb is frightening and can  cause a lot of damage, both to property and even worse to life. It is disappointing that Jews are discriminated against because of their religion especially in a place like the United States, which is known for accepting all types of people, regardless of their race or religious beliefs.

To quote Evan R. Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League’s New York Regional Director, “No community center should ever be subjected to bomb threats or hate symbols. Although the threat was deemed to be not credible, these incidents create anxiety and fear and have zero place in our society.” One can only hope that one day we will live in a world where Jews do not have to feel afraid because of who they are.

 

Source: Breitbart News

Image: JCC of Staten Island Website (Fine Art Photos)

by: Ohad Barazani

Anti-Semitism Greets Jewish Backpackers in Georgia

Georgia, a small European country on the border with Russia was once part of the Soviet Union. Prior to its annexation by the USSR, it was known as a place where many Jews found escape from persecution across Europe and neighboring Slavic countries.

In recent years, it has become a popular attraction among Israeli tourists, particularly with Israeli college students who are drawn in by the breathtaking mountains, lakes and glaciers on their inter-semester breaks.

One of the main reasons for Georgia’s popularity among Israeli students is the well-known Georgian hospitality and their respect towards Jews.

Last month, on a backpacking trip a group of Jewish Israeli students were appalled to come across an anti-Semitic incident that left them speechless.

The author met these fellow students on a hike, who quickly related their shocking encounter.

Ziv Treiger, 25 reported that on one day prior to a hike, he and fellow backpackers, Orr Yagev, 25 and Adar Bar-David, 32 entered a local grocery store, in search for some snacks.

“From the first second we entered the store the clerk stared at us as if we were suspicious. After one minute of browsing the store, she asked us ‘why are you are taking so much time to buy [something] and leave [the store]?’ she didn’t let us out of her sight not even for one second and acted as if she was afraid we would steal something,” Treiger said.

Treiger, who speaks fluent Russian asked the sales clerk if any of the traditional Georgian bread, puri was in stock. The students continued to linger in the store for several minutes, debating what to buy. A man who entered the store at about roughly the same time began to raise his voice in anger. Treiger overheard the man yell in Russian several vulgarities.

As the students approached the counter and tried to make a hasty purchase and leave, Treiger began to count his change quickly. In an attempt to calm the man’s aggressive behavior, the students stepped out of the line, so as to not hold up the other customers. The man continued to yell obscenities. When Treiger finished counting the proper change, the man asked him if he had gotten it right. “Yes,” Treiger replied and overheard the man continue to curse and yell to “get out of here” and “f*ck you” and “because of this everyone hates you people.”

The entire time the sales woman silently nodded in support of the man’s statements, calmly agreeing with his anti-Semitic rant.
Treiger and fellow students were shocked at the encounter.

Later Yagev commented, “The way the man shouted angrily convinced us that it had nothing to do with the many backpackers in the area and solely with the fact that we were Jews.” Bar-David added “it’s strange to see anti-Semitism here…even in Georgia.”

In photo: One of the many small grocery stores in Kazbegi, Georgia (illustrative); courtesy of Yafit Ovadia

By: Yafit Ovadia