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May 21, 2015 3

Texas County Considers Adopting Militia Group

A south­east Texas county has drawn atten­tion recently after it became known that county offi­cials were con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing a local anti-government mili­tia group as an offi­cial “county mili­tia.” Orange County Judge Brint Carl­ton endorsed the idea, call­ing it a “good thing.”

David W. Smith

David W. Smith

County com­mis­sion­ers decided at the last minute to post­pone the vote after a com­mis­sioner voiced reser­va­tions, say­ing he needed more information.

The mili­tia move­ment is an anti-government cause whose adher­ents believe that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is col­lab­o­rat­ing with a shad­owy “New World Order” con­spir­acy to strip Amer­i­cans of their free­doms, start­ing with their right to bear arms, in order to even­tu­ally enslave Amer­i­cans to the New World Order. The mili­tia move­ment has a long his­tory of vio­lence and crim­i­nal acts; the Anti-Defamation League has tracked at least eight vio­lent acts, con­spir­a­cies or major crimes linked to the mili­tia move­ment just since 2011.

How­ever, David W. Smith, the “com­man­der” of the Golden Tri­an­gle Mili­tia, a small south­east­ern Texas mili­tia group formed in 2014, has lob­bied county offi­cials to adopt his mili­tia group, even­tu­ally get­ting some support.

Though Smith has claimed to reporters that his Golden Tri­an­gle Mili­tia is not anti-government but rather a “civil defense force which works with law enforce­ment,” to his own group he has showed a more con­spir­a­to­r­ial side, argu­ing that “we must never let ourselves…be com­pla­cent to the schemes of the world elit­ists” and demand­ing that Amer­i­cans “rid our­selves of tyran­ni­cal government.”

Smith, a for­mer phle­botomist who now sells “mono­lithic domes,” has expressed sup­port for views that are far from the main­stream. Through his Face­book pro­file, he is linked to a wide vari­ety of extrem­ist groups and fig­ures, from anti-government con­spir­acy the­o­rist Alex Jones (who pop­u­lar­ized the recent notion that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to invade Texas) to var­i­ous Three Per­center groups (anti-government extrem­ists who view them­selves fight­ing against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as Amer­i­can colonists fought against the British). Smith ran for U.S. sen­ate in 2014 on a plat­form of oppos­ing “this uncon­sti­tu­tional de facto government.”

Iron­i­cally, Texas law has no pro­vi­sion to allow its coun­ties to cre­ate county mili­tias. Smith has argued that Texas law allows Orange County to “rec­og­nize” his unit as the “Orange County Ready Reserve Mili­tia.” How­ever, the Texas Reserve Mili­tia is only a statu­tory man­power pool that exists to con­form to an obso­lete fed­eral mili­tia law dat­ing back orig­i­nally to 1792. The­o­ret­i­cally, the gov­er­nor of Texas can call por­tions of the reserve mili­tia into ser­vice in times of emer­gency by hav­ing county emer­gency boards insti­tute a draft. Such boards have no power to call up the reserve mili­tia on their own, how­ever, much less “adopt” para­mil­i­tary groups. The self-styled “mili­tias” of today have no legal rela­tion­ship to the his­tor­i­cal and statu­tory militia.

Despite this, Smith has claimed that coun­ties have the author­ity to orga­nize the Texas Reserve Mili­tia. He has also asserted that the mili­tia could come into ser­vice “by gen­eral con­sen­sus of the pop­u­la­tion should the state fail in the exe­cu­tion of its con­sti­tu­tional duties.” Smith has even claimed that county com­mis­sion­ers could be jailed if they refused to autho­rize a militia—a seri­ous mis­read­ing of Texas law.

Smith will have to wait to see if Orange County offi­cials sched­ule another vote or aban­don his plan altogether.

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May 19, 2015 3

The Distorted Image of Israel

Anti-Israel pun­dits con­tinue to invent new ways to use dis­tor­tions and half-truths to attack the Jew­ish state, pre­sent­ing Israel in a neg­a­tive light as racist, inhu­mane and entirely objec­tion­able. These Israel haters will often invert a pos­i­tive aspect of Israeli soci­ety, flip­ping it on its head in an effort to dele­git­imize the Jew­ish State.

This most well-known of these tac­tics is dubbed Pinkwash­ing by its inven­tors. It takes Israel’s proud record on LGBT issues and the open­ness Israeli soci­ety demon­strates towards the LGBT com­mu­nity, and absurdly argues that Israel uses this issue to deflect atten­tion away from its treat­ment of Palestinians.

Ken Roth, the direc­tor of Human Rights Watch, recently engaged in a sim­i­lar “deflec­tive” prac­tice with Israel’s life-saving efforts in Nepal fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.  In response to Israel’s announce­ment that they were send­ing a del­e­ga­tion to pro­vide med­ical and search-and-rescue assis­tance, Roth cyn­i­cally tweeted: “Eas­ier to address a far-away human­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter than the nearby one of Israel’s mak­ing in Gaza. End the block­ade!”
Ken Roth

Another avenue used by Israel-hating activists is the so-called “Buz­zfeed model” of try­ing to main­stream dis­torted and overly sim­pli­fied lists of Israeli transgressions.

In a recent post­ing for Alter­net, anti-Israel writer Zaid Jilani con­cocted a list of “6 Crazy Things Israel Has Done to Main­tain Racial Purity.” The title is a dead give­away of the tac­tic — trum­pet­ing the hyper­bole and dis­tor­tions in the arti­cle to fol­low. And while there are grains of truth to each of the exam­ples listed, they all lack full con­text, and are spun in the most neg­a­tive of ways to accom­plish out­landish offence towards Israel.

One of the exam­ples listed is that only Jews are enti­tled to the right-of-return law, which pro­vides for auto­matic Israeli cit­i­zen­ship. This law does give spe­cial immi­gra­tion sta­tus to Jews and is gen­er­ally cham­pi­oned as a pos­i­tive ini­tia­tive by Israel, enabling Jews from around the world, and their descen­dants up to four gen­er­a­tions, to call Israel their home. Many of the Jews, espe­cially in the early years of the State, were sur­vivors of the Holo­caust and refugees from vio­lent expul­sion by hos­tile Arab coun­tries. Dur­ing the 1980s and 1990s, over a mil­lion Jews from the Soviet Union and tens of thou­sands from Ethiopia were able to escape oppres­sive con­di­tions and build new homes in Israel, thanks to this law. As the his­toric home­land of the Jew­ish peo­ple, Israel right­fully and proudly sees this law as one of its most impor­tant and pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to the safety and well-being of Jews from around the world. Other immi­grants to Israel are required to apply for cit­i­zen­ship, pur­suant to laws that are sim­i­lar to those in other democ­ra­cies, and are not guar­an­teed auto­matic cit­i­zen­ship status.

Israel is not a per­fect county. Like all West­ern democ­ra­cies, it is faced with its fair share of domes­tic and inter­na­tional chal­lenges. But it has also accom­plished a great deal in its short his­tory, and is home to a thriv­ing progressively-minded society.

It is sad that Israel can do no good in the eyes of the Pinkwash­ers and peo­ple like Roth and Jilani. No mat­ter Israel’s accom­plish­ments and con­tri­bu­tions to the world, these voices, cloaked in a mar­ble of right­eously pro­mot­ing a human-rights agenda, seem bent on invent­ing new ways to use hate-filled rhetoric hate-filled to upend Israel’s pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to soci­ety and the world to unjustly vil­ify the Jew­ish State.

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May 19, 2015 0

Reencounter: Ethiopian Jews and Their Children

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Jerusalem Post Blog

YR-1378

In the 1990s, in the years after the Israel Defense Forces air­lifted 22,000 Ethiopian Jews in Oper­a­tions Moses (1984) and Solomon (1991) to bring them to the Jew­ish home­land, an idea was born to have these new Jew­ish immi­grants share with Amer­i­can stu­dents their expe­ri­ences as Africans, Jews and Israelis. That idea resulted in ADL’s Chil­dren of the Dream, a pro­gram that began in Los Ange­les and then quickly expanded across the U.S.

In Amer­i­can class­rooms, recre­ation cen­ters and across lunch tables, young Ethiopian Israelis told com­pelling sto­ries of res­cue from oppres­sion in Ethiopia and their jour­neys to free­dom in Israel. It was pow­er­ful and mov­ing to see these young Israeli men and women inter­act­ing with Amer­i­can stu­dents, who were awed by the fact that these young Ethiopian teenagers were not only immi­grants from a far­away land, but were also, remark­ably, newly minted Israeli cit­i­zens and Jews. In short, they did not fit the stereo­typ­i­cal notion of who is Jew­ish and what is a Jew.

Amer­i­can stu­dents responded with their own sto­ries of dis­crim­i­na­tion and flight.

Although orig­i­nally designed as a pro­gram to edu­cate Amer­i­cans about Ethiopian Jews and Israel, the pro­gram also served as a lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram for the Ethiopian Israeli stu­dents them­selves. In the decade or so of the pro­gram, 120 Ethiopian Israelis received lead­er­ship skills in an inten­sive prepara­tory pro­gram. 

A year and a half ago, when ADL cel­e­brated its 100th anniver­sary, we had a reunion with our Chil­dren of the Dream grad­u­ates, many of whom have gone on to edu­ca­tional and pro­fes­sional suc­cess and main­tained their con­nec­tion to ADL. 

At that event, the grad­u­ates shared what a life-changing expe­ri­ence they had – that because ADL believed in them, because they were selected to rep­re­sent their com­mu­nity and their coun­try, they believed in them­selves.

I so enjoyed this rem­i­nisc­ing and catch­ing up with these now-adults, that I asked if we could con­tinue to meet and, next time, if they would please bring their chil­dren.

And this week, in Israel, we did. I met the spouses and chil­dren, and heard the suc­cess sto­ries of our grad­u­ates who have gone on to higher edu­ca­tion to build fam­i­lies, homes and careers. The drive, pride and energy con­tinue to the next gen­er­a­tion. 

One of the chil­dren of our grad­u­ates, 10 years old, asked her mother if the “founder” of the pro­gram was going to be present. “Can I speak to him in Eng­lish?” she asked. She approached me and said, much as her mother did some 15 years ago, “My name is Galit, and I wanted to talk to you in Eng­lish to show you that I know. I prac­ticed with my mother all the way.”

Cur­rent chal­lenges were on everyone’s mind. The Ethiopian com­mu­nity in Israel has expe­ri­enced dif­fi­cult weeks with demon­stra­tions against the Israel Police with claims of bru­tal­ity and racism. These con­cerns, along with charges of dis­crim­i­na­tion and mis­treat­ment, are real and must be addressed together with the com­mu­nity on every level of Israeli soci­ety.

There were nods and applauds when I said: “Is Israel a racist coun­try? No, it isn’t. Are there racist peo­ple? – Yes. But this coun­try took its sol­diers into Ethiopia to bring the Jews here. Israel is not per­fect and there is an oppor­tu­nity to right past mis­takes.” 

One of the par­tic­i­pants, who is now a Lieu­tenant Colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, asserted, “I don’t believe this coun­try is racist.” Sev­eral oth­ers added, “The vio­lent demon­stra­tions won’t serve us well. Now we have to work together to improve our sit­u­a­tion.”

We have rejoiced in the story of the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews for decades and the strength and inspi­ra­tion they have brought to the Jew­ish state. 

The story is not yet over, nor should our efforts be. Together, we need to ensure inclu­sion and equity, to empower and enable the con­tri­bu­tions of those who expe­ri­enced the dream of com­ing to Israel, and their children.

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