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July 15, 2016 0

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees

FB-DNC-RNC-Platforms

Over the next two weeks, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats con­vene their con­ven­tions – the equiv­a­lent of the MLB All-Star Game for polit­i­cal junkies. While the con­ven­tions are often a spec­ta­cle of polit­i­cal the­ater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken cen­ter stage is over­shad­ow­ing impor­tant pol­icy issues.

This hasn’t hap­pened in a vac­uum.  For years, America’s polit­i­cal debate has been slid­ing toward greater polar­iza­tion and acri­mony, leav­ing lit­tle space for the give-and-take that is vital to the pub­lic pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion and a healthy demo­c­ra­tic process. Even where Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can find com­mon ground, as they do on issues like crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, there seems to be lit­tle incen­tive for either party to compromise.

These diver­sions would be unhelp­ful in any elec­tion year.  But there are seri­ous issues fac­ing Amer­i­cans today, issues that require seri­ous debate. Amer­i­cans across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are reel­ing from the shoot­ing death of African-Americans Alton Ster­ling and Phi­lando Castile and the mass mur­der of police offi­cers in Dal­las. And ter­ror­ist mas­sacres tar­get­ing a gay night club in Orlando and gov­ern­ment work­ers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by vio­lent Islamist groups like ISIS. What­ever one’s views about how to address this vio­lence and the range of inter­twined issues it raises, Amer­i­cans deserve a prob­ing and con­struc­tive national debate rather than a con­test to see who can score the most polit­i­cal points.

In for­mal sub­mis­sions to the Plat­form Com­mit­tees of both par­ties, ADL has urged that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats address a range of impor­tant issues in an urgent way. Inter­na­tion­ally, the U.S. must con­tinue to play a lead­er­ship role in the fight against ter­ror­ism; in ensur­ing that Israel remains strong and secure; in pro­mot­ing peace and respect for human rights across the Mid­dle East and else­where around the globe; and in speak­ing out against a dis­turb­ing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domes­ti­cally, our sub­mis­sion also addresses a vari­ety of issues, for exam­ple assert­ing the urgent need for progress on vot­ing rights, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, expanded legal pro­tec­tion for the LGBT com­mu­nity, refugee rights, and gun vio­lence prevention.

ADL has had a long­stand­ing prac­tice of sub­mit­ting its pol­icy agenda to both par­ties, and has called on cam­paigns to reject char­ac­ter attacks and the use of big­otry in numer­ous cam­paign sea­sons.  This year, ADL is host­ing events at both con­ven­tions that focus on find­ing space for sub­stan­tive debate and col­lab­o­ra­tion toward progress in order to get down to the seri­ous busi­ness of address­ing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fall­out will linger unless we can ele­vate the qual­ity of the debate mov­ing for­ward.  It is incum­bent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of big­otry or char­ac­ter attacks by any can­di­date, and to pro­mote a pub­lic debate based on facts, evi­dence and civil discourse.

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July 1, 2016 2

Iranian Commemoration of Al-Quds Day Includes Anti-Semitic and Harsh Anti-Israel Expressions

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, which takes place on the last Fri­day of Ramadan, was ini­ti­ated in 1979 by Aya­tol­lah Khome­ini, leader of the Islamic rev­o­lu­tion in Iran, as a show of sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans and to assert the Islamic claim over Jerusalem. While events are held around the world, in Iran, it is often marked by a hate­ful demon­stra­tion of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sen­ti­ment, man­i­fest in gov­ern­ment orga­nized ral­lies and other activ­i­ties. Before this years’ Al Quds day (July 1), Iran’s lead­er­ship ral­lied the coun­try.  Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khamenei called its com­mem­o­ra­tion and sup­port for the oppressed Pales­tini­ans an impor­tant reli­gious duty.

The Islamic Prop­a­ga­tion Coor­di­na­tion Coun­cil in a state­ment called for wide­spread par­tic­i­pa­tion in Quds Day demon­stra­tions and asked them to repeat the same slo­gans “Death to Amer­ica, Death to Israel and Death to inter­na­tional Zion­ism and Impe­ri­al­ism.” It was reported that in one Quds Day demon­stra­tion, plac­ards were held up which called for Israel’s destruc­tion by the year 2040, and peo­ple chant­ing “Death to Amer­ica” threw stones at a mock Statue of Lib­erty. In advance of Al Quds day, Iran’s Fars news agency pub­lished a wave of harsh anti-Semitic and anti-Israel car­toons, some with clas­si­cal anti-Semitic themes, such as Jew­ish world dom­i­na­tion, depict­ing the world under the con­trol of a Jewish/Israeli octo­pus, worm or spider:

Oth­ers are of a more anti-Israel nature, yet sim­i­larly con­spir­a­to­r­ial in that they imply Israel is a part of a broader, if not global, U.S. plot. One depicts Israel as a dog oper­ated by the U.S. against Gaza, while another shows the U.S. and an Arab fig­ure – most prob­a­bly rep­re­sent­ing the Saudi royal fam­ily who are bit­ter rivals of the Islamic Repub­lic – form­ing together a Star of David, as though they are work­ing in the ser­vice of Israel and the Jews.

Other car­toons depict an Israel on the verge of destruc­tion.  One depicts an Israeli fig­ure run­ning away just before a dam with a Star of David col­lapses, as a result of a mass of peo­ple, with the cap­tion “Death to Israel”. Another car­toon shows an Israeli sol­dier drown­ing in blood rep­re­sented by the red part of the Pales­tin­ian flag.

Other car­toons demo­nize Israel by deform­ing the appear­ances of an Israeli sol­dier shown with satanic ears and with teeth shaped like nuclear mis­siles, while another of for­mer Israeli pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres depicts him as a demonic figure.

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June 16, 2016 1

Bigots Express Hateful Rhetoric After Orlando Attack

In the wake of the bru­tal ter­ror­ist attack by Omar Mateen that killed 49 mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity and wounded 53 oth­ers at a gay night­club in Orlando, com­mu­ni­ties held vig­ils across the coun­try to express sol­i­dar­ity with the vic­tims. In marked con­trast to the love and sup­port shown by peo­ple around the world, haters voiced anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT sen­ti­ment and pro­moted anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries in the after­math of the event.

Not sur­pris­ingly, big­ots and extrem­ists used the mas­sacre in Orlando to demo­nize Mus­lims and Jews and to assert that the LGBT com­mu­nity got what it deserved because of their lifestyle. The sen­ti­ments they expressed demon­strate that these haters will exploit any tragedy to pro­mote their ideology.

Anti-Muslim activism

Over the past year, anti-Muslim activism has been on the rise across the United States. The Orlando attack has pro­vided a boost to such hate­ful sen­ti­ment and big­oted rhetoric.

  • Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller com­mented on the Orlando attack on her blog on June 12: “The media is call­ing it a hate crime. So it’s safe to assume Islam is a hate ideology.”
  • Robert Spencer, direc­tor of the anti-Muslim web­site Jihad Watch, wrote an arti­cle on the site about the ter­ror­ist who car­ried out the Orlando attack: “He was a devout adher­ent of a reli­gion that man­dates death for homo­sex­u­als, and the son of a man who sup­ports a group that puts gays to death (even as homo­sex­ual behav­ior is ram­pant in Afghanistan).”
  • A self-claimed ex-terrorist who is now a Chris­t­ian con­vert and an extrem­ist anti-Muslim activist, Walid Shoe­bat, used the Orlando attack as an oppor­tu­nity to renew his sup­port for calls to ban Mus­lims from enter­ing the U.S.  He wrote on his offi­cial web­site on June 12, “First of all it is 100% impos­si­ble to screen Mus­lims to weed out the ter­ror­ists.… Any­one who thinks that the U.S. or Europe are prop­erly vet­ting or can vet these ter­ror­ists [is] dream­ing. They can­not even mon­i­tor a few ter­ror­ists.”  He con­cluded his state­ment: “What more can we do? In a nut­shell, all you west­ern­ers, unless you com­pletely ban Islam, your’e [sic] screwed.”
  • Over social media plat­forms, some have cheered what they con­sid­ered proof that pre­vi­ous calls to ban Mus­lim immi­gra­tion to the U.S. were wise and “spot-on,” attack­ing at the same time what they described as a pol­icy to “import more Mus­lims.” Other anti-Muslim state­ments over social media recy­cled old claims about the inher­ently vio­lent nature of Islam, and the threat of not using the words “rad­i­cal Islamic ter­ror­ism” in the con­text of describ­ing such ter­ror­ist attacks.

Anti-LGBTQ hatred

While the LGBT and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties banded together to pro­mote tol­er­ance over hatred, extrem­ists, includ­ing two pas­tors who are close asso­ciates, pro­moted a vir­u­lent strain of homo­pho­bia. Neo-Nazis also expressed con­tempt for the LGBT com­mu­nity, with some cel­e­brat­ing the ter­ror­ist attack.

Anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic tweet on Orlando attack

Anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic tweet about Orlando attack

  • Steven Ander­son, a pas­tor in Tempe, Ari­zona, who is known for his hatred of the LGBT com­mu­nity as well as Jews, gave a ser­mon cel­e­brat­ing the mur­der of gay peo­ple. He said: “The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homo­sex­u­als are a bunch of dis­gust­ing per­verts and pedophiles.” He asserted that “they should have been killed through the proper chan­nels as in they should have been exe­cuted by a right­eous gov­ern­ment that would have tried them, con­victed them, and saw them executed.”
  • Roger Jimenez, a pas­tor of a church in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia and an asso­ciate of Anderson’s, voiced sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments. He posed the rhetor­i­cal ques­tion, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” He answered, “Um, no. I think that’s great. I think that helps soci­ety.” He added that “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is—I’m kind of upset that he didn’t fin­ish the job.” He con­tin­ued, “I wish the gov­ern­ment would round them all up, put them against a fir­ing wall, put a fir­ing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.”
  • On his neo-Nazi web­site Infos­tormer, Lee Rogers wrote, “I find your dis­eased lifestyles dis­gust­ing and toxic to the body politic.” He added that if the LGBT com­mu­nity “choses to fol­low The Don [a ref­er­ence to Don­ald Trump]… we will not openly attack you or slaugh­ter you. Your rights to defile our mar­riage cer­e­monies and push your agenda will of course be rescinded, and there will no longer be pride parades fea­tur­ing mas­sive dil­dos on Amer­i­can streets.”
  • In an early response to the shoot­ing, a poster on the neo-Nazi forum Van­guard News Net­work said that Mateen “offed 20 of the most degen­er­ate pieces of excre­ment on the face of the earth, and if he gets vir­gins in par­adise, as far as I’m con­cerned, he earned them.”
  • Oth­ers on social media, in par­tic­u­lar Twit­ter, used the pejo­ra­tive term “homo­caust” to describe the mas­sacre in Orlando.

Anti-Semitic con­spir­acy theories

Fringe anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists rarely miss an oppor­tu­nity to exploit tragedies to pro­mote their hatred of Jews, as they did blam­ing Jews for events rang­ing from coor­di­nated ter­ror attacks across Paris in Novem­ber 2015 to the Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School mas­sacre in Decem­ber 2012 to the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks.

Tweet promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies in response to Orlando attack

Tweet pro­mot­ing anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies in response to Orlando attack

  • In this lat­est round of blam­ing Jews for all that is wrong with the world, David Duke, the for­mer Klan leader, posted a video on YouTube titled “The Orlando Ter­ror and the Dark Side of Diver­sity.” In this video, Duke invokes anti-Semitic the­o­ries about Jew­ish con­trol and sup­pos­edly evil Jew­ish inten­tions stat­ing, “…the pow­er­ful Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions have led the push for open bor­ders.” He added, “…the takeover of Amer­i­can elite media, pol­i­tics, and bank­ing has directly led to the poli­cies of eth­nic cleans­ing in the coun­try our fore­fa­thers cre­ated and they lit­er­ally brag about this.” Duke blames the Jews and oth­ers for what he describes as the “the eth­nic cleans­ing of Amer­ica, Europe, and every West­ern Nation” and calls on “every white nation” to “rise up and defend West­ern Chris­t­ian civilization.”
  •  Addi­tion­ally, Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, pub­lished a num­ber of arti­cles blam­ing Israel or Jews for the Orlando shooting:

 –In an arti­cle titled “MK-Ultra Triple Play in Orlando,” Vet­er­ans Today colum­nist Pre­ston James tries to place the Orlando shoot­ing into a larger Jew­ish con­spir­acy. He wrote, “[I]t is rea­son­able to view this Orlando shoot­ing as a pos­si­ble joint Mossad/CIA Gladio-style, inside-job, false-flag “triple-play” op designed to help moti­vate the Amer­i­can masses to col­lect the guns, accept polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and homo­sex­u­al­ity as the pre­ferred norm, and to fur­ther moti­vate Amer­i­cans to sup­port deploy­ing our war machine to fight more wars for Israel and the KM (Roth­schild Zion­ist Banksters).”

–In “Orlando Shoot­ing: Why Israel Availed the Vicious Cir­cle of Ter­ror­ism?” Saj­jad Shaukat claims that Israel is behind a num­ber of attacks in coop­er­a­tion with “the Zionist-Israeli-led Amer­ica” in order to stir up hatred against Mus­lims. Shaukat writes: “And most probably…Mossad might have arranged this mas­sive shooting…to divert the atten­tion of Amer­i­can pub­lic from inter­nal prob­lems, pro­longed war on ter­ror etc., and espe­cially to avoid the solu­tion of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote a Vet­er­ans Today arti­cle titled “Orlando Nigh­club Shoot­ing Another False Flag?” In this arti­cle, Bar­rett places Israel at the cen­ter of “the long list of false flags that cre­ated [the Orlando shoot­ing], claim­ing that “Zion­ists have been pan­ick­ing, fear­ing that Obama is going to…officially estab­lish the State of Palestine…The usual sus­pects may have responded with a mas­sive pub­lic­ity stu­dent in Orlando designed to make us for­get Muham­mad Ali [who Bar­rett describes as a pos­i­tive Mus­lim role model] and make it much harder, if not impos­si­ble, for Obama to force the Israelis to with­draw from the ter­ri­tory they stole in 1967.”

  • Some social media users responded by post­ing vehe­mently anti-Semitic mes­sages on Twit­ter, mak­ing accu­sa­tions sim­i­lar to those of Duke or Vet­er­ans Today, either blam­ing Jews them­selves for per­pe­trat­ing the attacks or Jew­ish con­trol of a num­ber of sec­tors in the U.S. for inspir­ing the attacks.

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