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January 22, 2016 2

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still…..A Jew

Saud Al Shureem anti-semitic Tweet

Saud al-Shuraim’s anti-Semitic tweet about the Jewish-Iranian alliance

Over the past month, esca­lat­ing ten­sion in the Mid­dle East between Iran and the Arab Gulf States helped fuel a resur­gence of anti-Semitic state­ments and con­spir­acy the­o­ries about a sup­posed link between Israel and Jews to Iran.

Angered by Iran’s increas­ing influ­ence in the region, promi­nent Arab fig­ures includ­ing politi­cians, reli­gious lead­ers and jour­nal­ists have accused Jews and Israel of secretly sup­port­ing Iran and Shi’a Mus­lims in their war against the Sunni Mus­lim world.

Just last week, promi­nent Saudi scholar, Saud al-Shuraim, an Imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca wrote the fol­low­ing state­ment on his Twit­ter account: “It is no won­der the Safavids [Ira­ni­ans] ally with Jews and Chris­tians against Mus­lims because his­tory tes­ti­fies that this is the case. What is strange are the minds which took too long to under­stand this fact.”

Some went as far as accus­ing “the Jews” of orches­trat­ing Iran’s war against the Sunni Mus­lim world. Jor­dan­ian online news agency Ammon News pub­lished an arti­cle on Jan­u­ary 19, titled “Iran started its holy war on the Sun­nis with the bless­ing of the Jews.”

The online pub­li­ca­tion, Al Khaleej Affairs, which spe­cial­izes in Arab Gulf States’ Affairs, inter­viewed Iraqi Sunni activist Falih Al Shi­bly on Jan­u­ary 21 to talk about the Iran­ian involve­ment in Iraq. In the inter­view Al Shi­bly claimed, “Unfor­tu­nately, there is igno­rance in the region about the Jew­ish sup­ported Per­sian plot.” He added that “This plot is against all Arab coun­tries from the Ara­bian West to the ‘Ara­bian’ Gulf.”

Other anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions included con­spir­acy the­o­ries that the Jew­ish lobby in the U.S. is respon­si­ble for dri­ving America’s pol­icy in Iran’s best inter­ests. Dubai Police Chief, Dahi Khal­fan, whose bizarre state­ments in the past included accus­ing the Jews of being linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, claimed on Jan­u­ary 18 that Pres­i­dent Obama is of Shi’a roots and “the sons of Zion” [the Jews] helped him  reach pres­i­dency to “bring Iran and Amer­ica closer.” Khalfan’s state­ments were widely cir­cu­lated in the Arab world.

Such a claim about Jew­ish sup­port for Iran was the sub­ject of sev­eral tweets by for­mer Man­ager of the Dubai Gov­ern­ment Media Office, Dherar Bel­houl Al Falasi, on Jan­u­ary 11. He claimed that Jews revere Iran because it is con­sid­ered a “holy” coun­try in Judaism. He wrote “Jews revere Iran more than ‘Palestine.’”

The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion ISIS is cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this anti-Semitic trend as well. The fea­tured arti­cle in their most recent English-language mag­a­zine Dabiq issue included a 14-page screed link­ing Jews and Shi’as. The back cover of the mag­a­zine also fea­tured a full page image of Jews pray­ing in a syn­a­gogue with a clear ref­er­ence to the Jews of Isfa­han in Iran.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is more than just a delu­sional per­spec­tive. It is a tool that has been used time and again to gal­va­nize Arab pub­lic opinion.

These con­spir­acy the­o­ries also fail to rec­og­nize both the very real threat Iran rep­re­sents to the Jew­ish state and the cen­tral­ity of anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda in the ide­ol­ogy embraced by Iran’s rul­ing regime. It is ironic that such accu­sa­tions emerge while Iran is orga­niz­ing  an inter­na­tional car­toon contest–on the Holocaust.

Ten­sion between Iran and the Arab world has a long his­tory, but it has esca­lated notably over the past few months as a result of the Iran nuclear agree­ment and grow­ing con­cern among Arab Gulf States about Iran’s expand­ing regional influ­ence and its involve­ment in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world. Both sides have used the media to prop­a­gate anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions against the other through the lens of their own agen­das. It seems that  Shi’as  and Sun­nis can agree on one thing: blam­ing the Jews for their problems.

In the past, ADL doc­u­mented a num­ber of sim­i­lar con­spir­acy the­o­ries in the Arab world includ­ing that ISIS has Jew­ish roots and that Israel and Jews are linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

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January 22, 2016 0

Forty-Three Years after Roe v. Wade We Continue to Fight for Reproductive Freedom

Forty-three years ago the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its water­shed deci­sion in Roe v. Wade, hold­ing that a woman’s con­sti­tu­tional right to pri­vacy includes the right to access an abor­tion. By guar­an­tee­ing women the right to deter­mine whether to con­tinue a preg­nancy, Roe has had far-reaching impli­ca­tions for women’s rights beyond the med­ical pro­ce­dure itself. The abil­ity to con­trol fam­ily plan­ning and their own bod­ies for the last two gen­er­a­tions has played an invalu­able role in help­ing women deter­mine the course of their own lives, decide when or whether to have chil­dren, earn higher degrees, advance in the work­place, and attain more equal rights.

Photo Credit Debra Sweet Flickr

Photo Credit: Debra Sweet, Flickr

Still, the jour­ney from Roe has not been an easy one. Four decades after Roe rec­og­nized the con­sti­tu­tional right to an abor­tion, there are more attempts to limit access—and ulti­mately ban—abortions than ever before. Between 2011 and 2015 there were nearly as many restric­tions on abor­tion access enacted across the United States than in the prior fif­teen years com­bined. In 2015 alone, law­mak­ers con­sid­ered 396 bills that would have restricted access to abor­tions in 46 states. Though many were defeated, 17 states enacted a total of 57 new abor­tion restric­tions. Many of the bills, though not explic­itly about reli­gion, have reli­gious under­tones, with leg­is­la­tors cit­ing scrip­ture dur­ing debate and seek­ing to enshrine their own par­tic­u­lar reli­gious view into law.

The lat­tice­work of state abor­tion restric­tions now includes coun­sel­ing require­ments that force doc­tors to give women often sci­en­tif­i­cally questionable—and some­times down­right inaccurate—information about the pro­ce­dures and their pos­si­ble side effects. Other laws impose wait­ing peri­ods that require women to come back to clin­ics days later, cre­at­ing par­tic­u­larly oner­ous obsta­cles for women who some­times have to travel hun­dreds of miles and lose hourly wages while away from work. Still oth­ers cre­ate restric­tions on insur­ance cov­er­age that make abor­tions almost impos­si­ble for poor peo­ple to access.

Other types of restric­tions, which cre­ate what doc­tors widely agree are med­ically unnec­es­sary require­ments for clin­ics, are also thinly veiled attempts to shut down repro­duc­tive health cen­ters. Such laws have become so wide­spread that they have their own term: tar­geted reg­u­la­tion of abor­tion providers (TRAP) laws. In Texas, for exam­ple, the law, among other things, requires clin­ics that pro­vide abor­tion ser­vices to meet the same build­ing, staffing and equip­ment require­ments as “ambu­la­tory sur­gi­cal cen­ters,” even though the pro­ce­dures there do not require such things by med­ical stan­dards. The law also requires doc­tors pro­vid­ing abor­tion ser­vices to have admit­ting priv­i­leges at a local hos­pi­tal, some­thing that is becom­ing increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to do in areas that largely oppose abor­tion rights or where there are only religiously-affiliated hos­pi­tals nearby. The law could shut­ter all but 10 abor­tion clin­ics, includ­ing every clinic west of San Anto­nio. Com­bined with Texas’ manda­tory wait­ing period between see­ing a doc­tor and hav­ing the pro­ce­dure, that would effec­tively put abor­tion access out of reach for mil­lions of women in Texas, who would often have to travel hun­dreds of miles to the near­est clinic and stay at least overnight.

A chal­lenge to that Texas law is now pend­ing before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, could have dra­matic impli­ca­tions for women’s abil­i­ties to access abor­tion all around the coun­try. The Supreme Court has said clearly and defin­i­tively in the past that states can­not place “undue bur­dens” on a woman’s abil­ity to access an abor­tion before fetal via­bil­ity, and that such bur­dens include “unnec­es­sary health reg­u­la­tions that have the pur­pose or effect of pre­sent­ing a sub­stan­tial obsta­cle to a woman seek­ing an abor­tion.” If the Court finds that the abil­ity to shut­ter clin­ics with tech­ni­cal and med­ically unnec­es­sary restric­tions does not qual­ify as an undue bur­den, how­ever, states around the coun­try could make abor­tions inac­ces­si­ble to all but the most priv­i­leged who can afford to take time off work, travel long dis­tances, and pay out of pocket for pro­ce­dures to which they have a con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed right.

On the anniver­sary of Roe v. Wade, the right to safe and legal abor­tions for many women hangs in the bal­ance. We must all work to safe­guard that fun­da­men­tal con­sti­tu­tional right so that all women— regard­less of where they live, what type of insur­ance they have, where they work, or how much money they have—can access the safe abor­tion ser­vices that have been so crit­i­cal in advanc­ing women’s rights and equality.

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January 19, 2016 4

MLK & ADL: Because the Work is Not Yet Done

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

MLK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we mark the 87th birth­day of Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. It also has been just over 180 days since I took the helm of the Anti-Defamation League(ADL), an orga­ni­za­tion founded more than 100 years ago in pur­suit of a dream that MLK labored to achieve his entire life: to fight big­otry and cre­ate a more just soci­ety. MLK and ADL shared a path that today seems per­haps even more inter­twined than ever before.

ADL was cre­ated in Octo­ber 1913, forged in the cru­cible of anti-Semitism. Our founders sought to rid the world of that age-old scourge even as they equally endeav­ored to drive an agenda of civil rights and social jus­tice. MLK was born 16 years later, and he matured into a civil rights leader in the 1950s, ded­i­cat­ing him­self to expos­ing the bru­tal­ity of the Jim Crow South and dis­man­tling its dis­crim­i­na­tory sys­tem of insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism and oppression.

ADL sup­ported MLK and the move­ment in its ear­li­est days. In 1954, we filed an ami­cus brief in the land­mark Brown v Board of Edu­ca­tion deci­sion. Ben Epstein, one of my pre­de­ces­sors who led ADL in the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury, directed the orga­ni­za­tion to work hand in hand with African Amer­i­can lead­ers. MLK and Epstein stood together in Selma as Epstein recruited his entire exec­u­tive team to march across the Edmund Pet­tis Bridge for that sto­ried march in Feb­ru­ary 1965. And later,​ MLK and Epstein again stood side by side in the Rose Gar­den with Pres­i­dent John­son and Attor­ney Gen­eral Kennedy, cel­e­brat­ing the gains of the move­ment and cement­ing the Black-Jewish alliance.

In recent years, how­ever, many have lamented of the fray­ing of the alliance. Diver­gent inter­ests in the ensu­ing decades have alien­ated many in our com­mu­ni­ties. Some sim­ply have for­got­ten the his­tory. Oth­ers have cho­sen to sub­or­di­nate it to other more press­ing con­cerns. But the thing about his­tory is that it always remains, per­haps just under the sur­face, but it still endures.

In my role as CEO of ADL, I have sought to re-energize that his­tory. Just last month, I led my first “lead­er­ship retreat,” bring­ing together my exec­u­tive team of pro­fes­sion­als and lay lead­ers. Yet, rather than hun­ker down near our head­quar­ters in Man­hat­tan, I opted to visit the Amer­i­can South so we could exam­ine the legacy of the alliance that defined the Amer­i­can Civil Rights move­ment and reflect on our part in it.

We started in Atlanta at Ebenezer Bap­tist Church, not only where MLK preached and the lan­guage of the move­ment took shape, but the site where we pre­viewed #50StatesAgainst Hate last August in the wake of the Charleston​ mas­sacre. #50States is a new nation­wide effort to ensure com­pre­hen­sive hate crimes laws are passed in all 50 states so that all peo­ple of all back­grounds have the pro­tec­tion that they deserve.

We then trav­eled to Mont­gomery and lis­tened to Bryan Steven­son whose land­mark work at the Equal Jus­tice Ini­tia­tive on crim­i­nal jus­tice issues and sen­tenc­ing reform strikes me as some of the most impor­tant con­tem­po­rary work in this field. We spent time in Selma, lit­er­ally walk­ing the same route across the Edmund Pet­tis Bridge that MLK, Epstein, and oth­ers walked 50 years ear­lier. Although we faced none of the hatred and vio­lence that con­fronted those marchers, we were struck by the his­tory of the moment.

Yet the retreat was not intended sim­ply to cel­e­brate our past. It was designed to remind ​us of the respon­si­bil­ity of the inher­i­tance bequeathed to us by Dr. King and Epstein. It was about climb­ing that hill of his­tory so that we might root our­selves in our legacy but also to use its van­tage point to look out at the hori­zon at the great chal­lenges that remain before us today. For surely, the work is not done.

As we con­sider the ris­ing inequal­ity in our coun­try between the rich and the very poor, we know the work is not done. As we con­sider the con­trast between our grad­u­a­tion rates and incar­cer­a­tion rates, we know the work is not done. As we con­sider the inabil­ity of our laws and the fail­ure of our cul­ture to pro­tect all vul­ner­a­ble groups from dis­crim­i­na­tion, we know the work is not done. As we observe the coars­en­ing of the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion and the rise of extrem­ism, we know our work is not done.

To para­phrase MLK, change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitabil­ity, but comes through con­tin­u­ous strug­gle. On this MLK Day, we recom­mit to the strug­gle — to straight­en­ing our backs and press­ing for­ward with the hard work of stop­ping the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple, stem­ming the tide of big­otry in all forms, and secur­ing jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.

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