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January 26, 2016 3

Outpouring of Anti-Israel Tweets After NBA Coach David Blatt Fired

After the fir­ing of the NBA’s Cleve­land Cav­a­liers head coach David Blatt, some social media users responded by post­ing vehe­mently anti-Israel, and some anti-Jewish, per­sonal attacks against Blatt, who holds both Israeli and Amer­i­can citizenship.

Hos­tile ver­bal attacks on indi­vid­u­als for being Israeli cit­i­zens or sup­port­ers of Israel appear to have become more com­mon­place in recent years both online and offline as well as some look to demo­nize the Jew­ish state in any way possible.

Below are just a few exam­ples from the dozens of social media posts per­son­ally attack­ing Blatt regard­ing his cit­i­zen­ship or reli­gious iden­tity rather than dis­cussing his abil­i­ties as a coach:

anti-israel-david-blatt-tweets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not the first time such open hos­til­ity against Israelis or Jews in sports has been expressed in such an ugly fash­ion on social media. After Israeli bas­ket­ball team Mac­cabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid in the Euroleague final in 2014, there was an out­pour­ing of anti-Semitic mes­sages on Twit­ter. Twit­ter also erupted with anti-Semitic com­men­tary after Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers out­fielder Ryan Braun was sus­pended from Major League Base­ball in 2013.

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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 15, 2016 0

Religious Freedom: Revolutionary and an American Strength

Jan­u­ary 16th is the 2016 obser­vance of National Reli­gious Free­dom Day, which was  estab­lished by Con­gress in 1993. It com­mem­o­rates the Vir­ginia Gen­eral Assembly’s 1786 adop­tion of the land­mark Vir­ginia Statute for Reli­gious Free­dom. Drafted by Thomas Jef­fer­son, it was the blue print for the reli­gious free­dom pro­tec­tions found in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Two-hundred thirty years later, how­ever, these very lib­er­ties and prin­ci­ples are being chal­lenged often in the name of“religious freedom.”

Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)

The Statute for Reli­gious Free­dom was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary change in the rela­tion­ship between gov­ern­ment and reli­gion. It sep­a­rated the two by pro­hibit­ing taxes sup­port­ing reli­gion, pro­vid­ing free exer­cise of reli­gion for all, and gen­er­ally bar­ring reli­gious tests for civic par­tic­i­pa­tion. These prin­ci­ples became the law of the land with the adop­tion of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and First Amendment.

The Constitution’s reli­gion clauses are the rea­son why a diver­sity of faiths has thrived in our nation for well-over 200 years. At their essence, the clauses pro­hibit gov­ern­ment from spon­sor­ing, sup­port­ing or sanc­tion­ing the impo­si­tion of reli­gious doc­trine or beliefs on cit­i­zens. They are a shield that safe­guards the reli­gious free­dom of all Amer­i­cans and our reli­gious institutions.

Address­ing these safe­guards in her last opin­ion, U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice San­dra Day O’Connor astutely observed:

[T]he goal of the Clauses is clear: to carry out the Founders’ plan of pre­serv­ing reli­gious lib­erty to the fullest extent pos­si­ble in a plu­ral­is­tic soci­ety. By enforc­ing the Clauses, we have kept reli­gion a mat­ter for the indi­vid­ual con­science, not for the pros­e­cu­tor or bureau­crat. At a time when we see around the world the vio­lent con­se­quences of the assump­tion of reli­gious author­ity by gov­ern­ment, Amer­i­cans may count them­selves for­tu­nate: … Those who would rene­go­ti­ate the bound­aries between church and state must there­fore answer a dif­fi­cult ques­tion: Why would we trade a sys­tem that has served us so well for one that has served oth­ers so poorly?

Despite Jus­tice O’Connor’s 2004 warn­ing, today we find our Constitution’s reli­gious free­dom pro­tec­tions and prin­ci­ples mis­un­der­stood and under chal­lenge. Most recently, lead­ing can­di­dates for the Pres­i­dency have said that Mus­lim Amer­i­cans are unfit to serve as Pres­i­dent and called for clos­ing down Mosques, as well as ban­ning Mus­lims from our shores. Such bla­tant reli­gious intol­er­ance is anti­thet­i­cal to our most core con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples and unac­cept­able from any per­son of good faith let alone an indi­vid­ual aspir­ing to the Pres­i­dency. Our nation’s wel­com­ing accep­tance of all reli­gious beliefs is a crit­i­cal tool in coun­ter­ing those groups and nations that seek to impose their faith on others.

In the States, dozens of bills have been filed over the last sev­eral years in the name of “reli­gious free­dom” that would allow busi­nesses — based on own­ers’ reli­gious beliefs — to refuse cus­tomers. Although many of these bills are directed at our nation’s LGBT com­mu­nity, they also could be used to turn away cus­tomers because for exam­ple they are Hindu, Human­ist, Jew­ish, Mor­mon or Mus­lim. Such leg­is­la­tion fun­da­men­tally mis­ap­pre­hends the pur­pose and scope of the Constitution’s reli­gious free­dom pro­tec­tions. They were never intended as a sword to impose reli­gious beliefs on oth­ers. The Con­sti­tu­tion most cer­tainly safe­guards the reli­gious beliefs and exer­cise of clergy, houses of wor­ship, and indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing beliefs and prac­tices about mar­riage. But for our plu­ral­is­tic soci­ety and mar­ket­place to prop­erly func­tion, they should not be used as a vehi­cle for discrimination.

The Con­sti­tu­tion also guar­an­tees the right of par­ents to send their chil­dren to reli­gious schools and reli­gious insti­tu­tions to per­form social and char­i­ta­ble ser­vices in-line with their reli­gious beliefs. But they in no way require the gov­ern­ment to fund either. Over the last 20 years, how­ever, Con­gress and state leg­is­la­tures have imple­mented pro­grams requir­ing tax­pay­ers to fund reli­gious schools and char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing those that dis­crim­i­nate or pros­e­ly­tize. Com­pelling tax­pay­ers to fund reli­gious insti­tu­tions with which they are not affil­i­ated or agree is anti­thet­i­cal to our con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples. Prop­erly inter­preted, the Con­sti­tu­tion should bar such gov­ern­ment fund­ing of religion.

Our reli­gious free­dom pro­tec­tions are one of America’s great­est strengths and a key rea­son why our Nation is excep­tional. On National Reli­gious Free­dom Day all Amer­i­cans should take a moment to appre­ci­ate their indi­vid­ual reli­gious lib­erty and reflect on the fact that mil­lions around the world are reg­u­larly sub­ject to reli­gious coer­cion or per­se­cu­tion. These free­doms must not be taken for granted. Amer­i­cans of good faith should push back on efforts to mis­use them in ways that impose par­tic­u­lar reli­gious beliefs or tests on their fel­low citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

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