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July 31, 2015 0

Significant Increase in Anti-Semitic Incidents in UK for 2015

CST, ADL’s part­ner in UK, reported today a sig­nif­i­cant increase in anti-Semitic inci­dents for first half of 2015, com­pared to the same period in 2014, but cau­tioned against alarm: “Detailed analy­sis of the tim­ing, con­tent and sources of every one of these recorded anti­se­mitic inci­dents sug­gests that, while they may partly reflect a real rise in inci­dent lev­els, the pri­mary expla­na­tion for the rise is most likely to be a greater will­ing­ness by peo­ple to report anti­semitism, either to CST or Police.”

CST report

The report does con­tain, how­ever, some dis­turb­ing findings:

-          Forty-four vio­lent anti-Semitic assaults were recorded dur­ing the period, includ­ing two instances of “griev­ous bod­ily harm.”  The num­ber of vio­lent inci­dents dou­bled from 2014.

-          Syn­a­gogues were tar­geted 25 times in first half of 2015.

-          Twenty inci­dents occurred at Jew­ish schools; 10 at pub­lic schools; and 14 inci­dents involved Jew­ish chil­dren or school staff on their way to or from school.  Three of the inci­dents involv­ing chil­dren were clas­si­fied under “Assaults.”

Infor­ma­tion on per­pe­tra­tors and moti­va­tions was also reported, though with caveats about the reli­a­bil­ity of infor­ma­tion from vic­tims about the per­pe­tra­tors’ eth­nic­ity.  The report cat­e­go­rizes the per­pe­tra­tors’ “eth­nic appear­ance” as:

-          54% “white – north European”

-          23% “south Asian”

-          13% “black”

-          6% “Arab or north African”

-          3% “white – south European”

-          1% “east or south-east Asian”

Polit­i­cal dis­course was reported in just 36% of inci­dents, with far-right lan­guage mak­ing up the vast major­ity.   Ref­er­ences to Israel, Zion­ism or the Mid­dle East were reported to have been made in less than 7% of incidents.

These num­bers should put to rest the com­monly held mis­con­cep­tion that anti-Semitic inci­dents are pri­mar­ily dri­ven by reac­tions to the Mid­dle East con­flict.  Yes, fight­ing between Israelis and Pales­tini­ans can trig­ger an upsurge, but right-wing extrem­ist anti-Semitism remains a seri­ous con­cern in the UK and elsewhere.

For more data on anti-Semitic atti­tudes in the UK, see ADL’s 2014 Global 100 sur­vey and 2015 fol­low up.

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July 30, 2015 0

Mezuzah Is Fair Housing Decision’s Overlooked Beneficiary

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25th favor­able fair hous­ing deci­sion was a big win for the civil rights of all Amer­i­cans, includ­ing Jew­ish con­do­minium own­ers and renters who are pro­hib­ited from plac­ing Mezuzahs on their outer door posts.

A mezuzah is a small, unob­tru­sive object – typ­i­cally less than six inches long and an inch wide – which for mil­len­nia has been placed on the outer door­posts of Jew­ish homes in ful­fill­ment of reli­gious oblig­a­tions.  It is not a dec­o­ra­tive choice for Jews, or a choice of any kind.  Rather, an obser­vant Jew­ish per­son can­not buy, rent or reside in a res­i­dence where place­ment of a mezuzah on the outer door­post is prohibited.

Mezuzah-RS Many con­do­mini­ums, devel­op­ments and rental com­mu­ni­ties are sub­ject to gen­er­ally applic­a­ble aes­thetic or other restric­tions which pro­hibit the dis­play of all reli­gious or sec­u­lar sym­bols on outer door­posts and doors, includ­ing the mezuzah.  In the vast major­ity of these sit­u­a­tions, home­owner asso­ci­a­tions or land­lords accom­mo­date Jew­ish res­i­dents by allow­ing them to post their mezuzahs with­out issue.

How­ever, in the minor­ity of cases where asso­ci­a­tions or land­lords refuse to allow the mezuzah, the Court’s deci­sion is a valu­able legal tool.  In Texas Dept. of Hous­ing v. The Inclu­sive Com­mu­ni­ties Project, Inc., the Court rec­og­nized “dis­parate impact” the­ory under the fed­eral Fair Hous­ing Act.  As a result, gen­er­ally applic­a­ble hous­ing rules or prac­tices that have the effect of unin­ten­tion­ally dis­crim­i­nat­ing on the basis of race, color, reli­gion, sex, famil­ial sta­tus or national ori­gin, includ­ing restric­tions bar­ring dis­play of the mezuzah, vio­late the Act.

In light of the Court’s rul­ing, ADL has issued a new pub­li­ca­tion enti­tled, “Reli­gious Accom­mo­da­tion for the Mezuzah: Your Rights Under Fair Hous­ing Laws,” which in addi­tion to dis­cussing accom­mo­da­tions under fed­eral law cov­ers the four state laws (Con­necti­cut, Florida, Illi­nois and Texas) that specif­i­cally pro­hibit rules bar­ring dis­plays of the mezuzah and other reli­gious sym­bols in outer door areas.

Pro­vid­ing reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions for the mezuzah is a prin­ci­pled and wor­thy prac­tice.   Now that the Court has ruled in favor of dis­parate impact under the Fair Hous­ing Act, home­owner asso­ci­a­tions and land­lords should be on notice that pro­vid­ing such accom­mo­da­tions is not only the right thing to do, but legally required in most instances.

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July 24, 2015 3

Lafayette Shooting Suspect Fixated on Perceived Moral Decay

john-russell-hauser-louisiana-state-police

John Rus­sell Hauser (Louisiana State Police)

A pre­lim­i­nary exam­i­na­tion of the on-line writ­ings of John Rus­sell Houser, who killed him­self last night after a vicious shoot­ing spree at a movie the­ater in Lafayette, Louisiana, that left two dead and nine oth­ers injured, reveals a twisted, angry man upset at a per­ceived moral decay that he thought was destroy­ing the United States.

Houser, orig­i­nally from Geor­gia but who had lived in var­i­ous places across the South prior to the shoot­ing, spent much of his free time in recent years mak­ing short, angry posts to on-line dis­cus­sion forums and com­ment sec­tions on var­i­ous web­sites, often using the screen name “Rusty Houser.” In many of these posts, Houser dis­cussed his belief that the United States was “about to fall.”

His dis­con­tent with the United States led him to make extreme anti-American state­ments, such as describ­ing the United States as “the enemy of the world.” When, in the win­ter of 2015, some 200 cars piled up in a multi-vehicle snow­storm acci­dent, Houser claimed that “the lack of moral Amer­i­cans stand­ing for any­thing makes me wish it were 200 747’s.”

In another post­ing, he wrote that he was “with all those who hate the filth farm known as the U.S.” In 2014, Houser claimed that “all coun­tries that hate the U.S.” needed to unite.

As some of these state­ments indi­cate, Houser was obsessed with the notion of moral decay in the United States; this obses­sion fueled much of his anger.

Anti-black racism played an impor­tant role in Houser’s vision of decay and doom. He repeat­edly argued that blacks should be deported because they, as he said in one 2013 post­ing, “WILL NOT WORK and have NO FAMILY VALUES.” This was lan­guage Houser used again and again, some­times refer­ring to blacks explic­itly, at other times describ­ing them in other ways, such as “another race, not Latinos.”

In 2014, Houser claimed that “fail­ing to men­tion the role of Blacks in build­ing and main­tain­ing the alliance of evil that lit­er­ally grips the globe” would slow the re-taking of Amer­ica. “Else­where, this par­tic­u­lar role is the Jew. Here in the U.S., it is the Black.” In another 2014 post­ing, Houser elab­o­rated on the morality-hating peo­ple who allegedly con­trolled Amer­ica, an alliance con­sist­ing of 1) upper class whites; 2) Blacks; and 3) “mis­fits,” which Houser listed as “homos, trans­ves­tites, peo­ple who will not work, peo­ple with no cul­ture, etc.”

Other sources of decay for Houser included athe­ists, lib­er­als, and gays—in the lat­ter instance, Houser even sup­ported the rabidly homo­pho­bic West­boro Bap­tist Church.

In con­trast, Houser admired other eth­nic or reli­gious groups, such as Lati­nos or Mus­lims. This was because he viewed such groups as either hard work­ing or with strong moral val­ues, or both. “I will never under­stand,” he posted in 2013,” why the hard work­ing, morally supe­rior Lati­nos never bring up for dis­cus­sion the other race which is known to be com­pletely the oppo­site for the most part.”

Refer­ring to Mus­lim immi­grants, for exam­ple, he said, “those com­ing in are far more decent morally than the aver­age Amer­i­can.” Ira­ni­ans, he wrote in late 2013, were “far higher morally than this finan­cially fail­ing filth farm.”

Faced with this fan­tasy sce­nario of doom and decay, Hauser seemed to have hoped for a man on horse­back who would sweep away all the per­ceived moral filth—a Travis Bickle writ large. “The one bright spot,” he wrote on one forum in 2013, “is that all mat­ters in need of tidy­ing up will be dealt with in sum­mary fash­ion soon.”

One of his mod­els for such a leader was Adolf Hitler, whom he repeat­edly praised. In 2013, he wrote that “Hitler’s reac­tion to much would be invalu­able now, if 98% weren’t brain­washed in the U.S.” In early 2015, he claimed that Hitler “accom­plished far more” than any other lead­ers. Around the same time, he claimed that “decent peo­ple can retake the entire world, as Hitler proved.”

In a dif­fer­ent 2015 post­ing, Houser wrote that “Hitler is loved for the results of his prag­ma­tism” and that “the U.S. is no more than a finan­cially fail­ing filth farm. Soon the phrase ‘rul­ing with an iron hand’ will be palat­able anew.”

In 2013, Houser had sim­i­lar views on Amer­i­can white suprema­cist fig­ure David Duke, writ­ing that “at one time [Duke] appeared exactly what the U.S. needed.”

Houser also admired the Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi polit­i­cal party, describ­ing them in 2014 as “com­posed of moral peo­ple.” Else­where, he described their ideas as “a legit­i­mate effort to solve prob­lems” and their lead­ers as “intel­li­gent, well spo­ken, and exer­cis­ing good faith.”

Houser had sim­i­larly admir­ing views of a vari­ety of other extrem­ist groups and move­ments, includ­ing rad­i­cal Islamists. “Yes, I am salut­ing the fun­da­men­tal­ist Mus­lims,” he said in Jan­u­ary 2015, “They have stood against evil.” He added, in a follow-up post, “They have my com­plete Chris­t­ian respect.”

These atti­tudes and opin­ions, which reveal them­selves so strik­ingly in Houser’s writ­ings, raise the unset­tling but real pos­si­bil­ity that he delib­er­ately chose a show­ing of the movie Train­wreck at which to launch a Taxi Dri­ver–like spree of vio­lence. The writer and star of the movie, tal­ented young come­dian Amy Schumer, has received con­sid­er­able media atten­tion thanks to the movie and her pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion show, and, given her cho­sen comedic per­sona of a sex­u­ally free-wheeling woman, as well as her lib­eral opin­ions, one could imag­ine how a dis­turbed mind like Houser’s could come to focus on the movie as a sym­bol for all of his dark fan­tasies about moral decay in America.

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