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January 28, 2016 0

Crossing the Line: When Criticism of Israel Becomes Anti-Semitic

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Task Force Protestors

Pro­test­ers at Task Force Con­fer­ence in Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wake of a protest against a recep­tion fea­tur­ing an Israeli com­mu­nity group at a recent LGBTQ con­fer­ence, there has been wide­spread con­tro­versy. We have read blog posts and arti­cles, watched videos of the protest, and heard from friends and allies who were present at the demonstration.

Yet, what was per­haps most painful for many of us is that we value and embrace much of the good work of these activists and orga­niz­ers.  They are some of our nation’s lead­ing advo­cates, work­ing to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all. Often they stand as allies in our work for jus­tice and equality.

Unfor­tu­nately, though, this fis­sure is not a new expe­ri­ence.  Since start­ing as the CEO of ADL last sum­mer, I per­son­ally have heard from many col­lege stu­dents that their Jew­ish faith ren­ders them pari­ahs on their cam­puses – unless and until they affir­ma­tively denounce Israel.

Cam­pus Hil­lels and other Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions that have long worked with LGBTQ cam­pus groups, stu­dent of color orga­ni­za­tions, and other pro­gres­sive clubs on cam­pus to host film fes­ti­vals, pan­els, and other events increas­ingly are being shut out, rejected from par­tic­i­pat­ing, even when Israel is not on the agenda. Where other stu­dents are not being sub­jected to a lit­mus test on their views on Israel, Jew­ish stu­dents have been sin­gled out and ques­tioned about their objec­tiv­ity and posi­tion on the issue.

As racial ten­sions flared across the coun­try the past few years, we heard anec­dotes from Jew­ish racial jus­tice advo­cates that they were called “kikes” or tar­geted with other anti-Jewish slurs. When they tried to address the epi­thets, they were told they need to under­stand that “it’s because of Israel.”

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not. It’s anti-Semitism.

Let’s be clear. No gov­ern­ment is immune from crit­i­cism. Surely nei­ther the U.S. gov­ern­ment nor the gov­ern­ment of Israel nor any other.  Indeed, we have crit­i­cized poli­cies and prac­tices of Israeli lead­er­ship when we felt appro­pri­ate to do so.

We rec­og­nize that anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists will con­demn Israel. That is a real­ity. That is their right. We dis­agree — vig­or­ously — with their accu­sa­tions of pinkwash­ing, with claims that Israel is an apartheid state, and with other efforts to demo­nize Israel.  And we will speak out, chal­lenge their mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, and dis­man­tle their indict­ments with facts and truths, as is our right.

But when that crit­i­cism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism, we will con­demn it. It is unac­cept­able and can­not be tol­er­ated any­where, espe­cially not in social jus­tice circles.

To be spe­cific, when a per­son con­flates Jews, Israelis, and the Israeli gov­ern­ment, it is anti-Semitic. When all Jews and all Israelis are held respon­si­ble for the actions of the Israeli gov­ern­ment, it is anti-Semitic. When Jews would be denied the right to self-determination accorded to all other peo­ples, it is anti-Semitic.

And when pro­test­ers chant “Pales­tine will be free from the river to the sea,” it is appro­pri­ately inter­preted by most peo­ple as a call for the era­sure of Israel – and it is anti-Semitic. Giv­ing pro­tes­tors the ben­e­fit of the doubt, it is unlikely that most intend their mes­sage to be anti-Semitic. How­ever, regard­less of the intent of the protest, the impact matters.

Yet, too often, when stu­dents, indi­vid­u­als, or orga­ni­za­tions raise the specter of anti-Semitism it is quickly rejected, dis­re­garded, or writ­ten off. Israel’s crit­ics lit­er­ally have writ­ten best-selling books decry­ing their so-called inabil­ity to crit­i­cize Israel.

But Pres­i­dent Obama him­self noted that anti-Semitism is on the rise. And, as he elo­quently reminded, “When any Jews any­where is tar­geted just for being Jew­ish, we all have to respond.. ‘We are all Jews.’ ”

Indeed, we know that women are best posi­tioned to define sex­ism, peo­ple of color to define racism, and LGBTQ peo­ple to define homo­pho­bia, trans­pho­bia, and het­ero­sex­ism. But, does this mean that all women must reach con­sen­sus on what offends them? All peo­ple of color? Every­one in LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties? Hardly.

So too, we Jews are best sit­u­ated to define anti-Semitism, even if all of us may not likely reach con­sen­sus on the def­i­n­i­tion. Our mil­len­nial expe­ri­ence with intol­er­ance demands the same acknowl­edge­ment as other forms of big­otry. Indeed, it is the col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­ity of activists and orga­niz­ers across the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum to stop and lis­ten when some­one says,  “You’ve crossed the line.”

Stand­ing up for rights of dis­em­pow­ered peo­ple is a job for us all. ADL has been doing it for more than 100 years. But mar­gin­al­iz­ing and wound­ing oth­ers in the process helps no one. Rather, it divides us and impedes our abil­ity to find com­mon ground in places where our col­lec­tive strength could do so much good.

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January 26, 2016 3

Failed White Supremacist Leaders Form New Christian Identity Group

Two lead­ers of the white suprema­cist move­ment, Paul Mul­let of Bain­bridge, Ohio, and Billy Roper of Moun­tain View, Arkansas, have joined forces to form a new group, Divine Truth Min­istries and its “polit­i­cal arm,” the Nation of True Israel.  Both men have strug­gled for years to estab­lish them­selves in the move­ment and to recruit followers.

Mul­let and Roper prac­tice Chris­t­ian Iden­tity, a vir­u­lently racist and anti-Semitic reli­gion. They believe not only that whites of Euro­pean descent can be traced back to the “Lost Tribes of Israel,” but that Jews descended from a union between Eve and Satan. In addi­tion to their Chris­t­ian Iden­tity beliefs, both men have embraced neo-Nazi ideology.

Symbol of Divine Truth Ministries, left, and Aryan Nations, right

Sym­bol of Divine Truth Min­istries, left, and Aryan Nations, right

A late Decem­ber press release by Roper announced they were “car­ry­ing for­ward the ideals and val­ues of Aryan Nations under a new ban­ner.” In the 1990s, Aryan Nations was one of the largest and most active neo-Nazi groups in the coun­try, as well as a major Chris­t­ian Iden­tity group.

Pre­sum­ably Mul­let and Roper hope to cap­i­tal­ize on the small void left by the recent dis­so­lu­tion of Mor­ris Gulett’s Louisiana-based fac­tion of Aryan Nations. Gulett’s group was one of a num­ber of fac­tions that formed after the 2004 death of Richard But­ler, the founder of Aryan Nations.

It is no sur­prise that Mul­let and Roper’s first course of busi­ness has been to demo­nize Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Ear­lier this month, just days before the fed­eral hol­i­day mark­ing Dr. King’s birth­day, they spon­sored a “Day of Edu­ca­tion,” which encour­aged all “white nation­al­ists” to dis­trib­ute anti-King fly­ers and lit­er­a­ture alleg­ing that King, among other things, was a pla­gia­rist and communist.

They are also orga­niz­ing an April march at Georgia’s Stone Moun­tain Park to protest leg­is­la­tion that would allow changes to exist­ing Con­fed­er­ate dis­plays and mon­u­ments, as well as a plan by the Stone Moun­tain Memo­r­ial Asso­ci­a­tion to install a mon­u­ment in King’s honor. Fol­low­ing the march, they are also plan­ning a white power music event at a dif­fer­ent venue.

Despite their ide­o­log­i­cal begin­nings with promi­nent neo-Nazi groups, Mul­let and Roper, just a year apart in age, have strug­gled to make their mark in the white suprema­cist world. Mul­let started with Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations, while Roper, who came from a fam­ily of Klans­men, got his start with William Pierce and the National Alliance. In the early 2000s, But­ler and Pierce died, leav­ing the neo-Nazi move­ment in dis­ar­ray and both Mul­let and Roper untethered.

Shortly after Pierce’s death, Roper, forced out by the remain­ing lead­ers of the National Alliance, started his own neo-Nazi group, White Rev­o­lu­tion. Despite years of effort, White Rev­o­lu­tion never amounted to any­thing more than a tiny pro­pa­ganda group and Roper shut it down in 2011. For the last sev­eral years, Roper was active with Thomas Robb’s Arkansas-based Klan group, the Knights Party.

Mul­let also expe­ri­enced fail­ures as he attempted to start sev­eral neo-Nazi and Chris­t­ian Iden­tity groups in the years fol­low­ing Butler’s death. His worst loss came in 2011 when Mor­ris Gulett usurped a fac­tion of the Aryan Nations that Mul­let had founded in 2009. In 2011, Mul­let attempted a come­back with the Amer­i­can National Social­ist Party, but it also failed.

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January 11, 2016 0

Fighting Anti-Semitism, Fighting for France

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Roger Cukier­man
Pres­i­dent of CRIF, the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of Jew­ish Insti­tu­tions in France

This blog orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post

Hyper Cacher (2)jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year ago this week, an ISIS-affiliated Islamic extrem­ist mur­dered four Jews at the Hyper Cacher kosher super­mar­ket in Paris. That attack fol­lowed the shoot­ings of the Char­lie Hebdo jour­nal­ists and police offi­cers just two days ear­lier, a heinous act also com­mit­ted by ISIS trained terrorists.

In 2012, a ter­ror­ist, who claimed affil­i­a­tion with al-Qaeda, killed three sol­diers in Mon­tauban and days later mur­dered a rabbi and three chil­dren at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse. Accord­ing to leaked doc­u­ments in the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of the mas­sive Novem­ber 13 attacks in Paris, Jew­ish tar­gets also were con­sid­ered by the ISIS-affiliated terrorists.

Anti-Semitism is a core tenet of Islamic extrem­ism, so it should not come as a sur­prise that French Jews are attacked in tan­dem with rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sym­bols of the French Repub­lic: sol­diers, police, and those exer­cis­ing free­dom of the press. For too many years, though, the wave of anti-Semitism that began in 2000 was con­sid­ered by French pub­lic opin­ion and French author­i­ties as sim­ply the import of the Arab-Israeli con­flict and thus not the respon­si­bil­ity of France.

The Hyper Cacher mur­ders marked a turn­ing point toward an under­stand­ing that the French Jew­ish com­mu­nity and the French Repub­lic share more than com­mon ene­mies. They share a com­mon destiny.

In a major speech to the French par­lia­ment just days after the attack, Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls admit­ted that French soci­ety had let down its Jew­ish com­pa­tri­ots by not react­ing suf­fi­ciently. He vowed to imple­ment a multi-pronged strat­egy against anti-Semitism and against rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity. That work is underway.

French author­i­ties waged a sim­i­lar bat­tle against rad­i­cal­iza­tion and anti-Semitism a cen­tury ago among mostly rural Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties. Pub­lic poli­cies were imple­mented to empha­size crit­i­cal think­ing and sec­u­lar­ism in edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions. Those efforts should be rein­forced to address Islamic extrem­ism in schools today.

In 2015, almost 1,000 stu­dents were iden­ti­fied by their teach­ers as at risk of rad­i­cal­iza­tion. In some schools in France — for­tu­nately a minor­ity of them — the anti-Semitism of the past 15 years pre­saged a rise of other illib­eral ten­den­cies: homo­pho­bia, sex­ism, con­spir­acy the­o­ries, and hatred of the French Republic.

Increas­ing Islamic extrem­ism has con­tributed to the polit­i­cal gains of the far right, which also has a long his­tory of anti-Semitism. The mutual rein­force­ment of these move­ments — with the far right con­tribut­ing to rad­i­cal­iza­tion among French Mus­lims — is not good for the Jews nor does it augur well for demo­c­ra­tic values.

Today the sit­u­a­tion in France is grave and very dif­fer­ent from the con­di­tions famil­iar to Jews liv­ing in the U.S. Com­par­ing eight years of ADL’s records for anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. and data from SPCJ, the French Jew­ish secu­rity agency, we see that French Jews are nearly 40 times more at risk of being attacked than Amer­i­can Jews (after adjust­ing for the size of the two com­mu­ni­ties). While it is ille­gal in France to keep sta­tis­tics based on eth­nic­ity or reli­gion, strong anec­do­tal evi­dence sug­gests that the over­whelm­ing major­ity of the assailants are young men of North African descent.

Accord­ing to a 2013 sur­vey of Euro­pean Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties by the Euro­pean Union, sixty per­cent of French Jews feared being the vic­tim of an anti-Semitic assault. Half of French Jews always or usu­ally avoid wear­ing any­thing that will iden­tify them as Jew­ish. Fear­ing for their phys­i­cal safety, a grow­ing num­ber of French Jews sim­ply have left their native coun­try. The num­ber of French Jews who moved to Israel dou­bled in 2014 from the prior year to more than 7,000, and reached almost 8,000 in 2015. While no hard sta­tis­tics are avail­able, Jews also emi­grated in large num­bers to the UK, the US, and Canada. More­over, most of these are core mem­bers of the com­mu­nity: fam­i­lies with chil­dren, iden­ti­fied Jews com­mit­ted to their faith, peo­ple who feel that they have been forced to choose between their beliefs and their safety.

If the major­ity of French Jews lose con­fi­dence that their sit­u­a­tion will improve, those num­bers will con­tinue to grow, leav­ing Europe’s largest Jew­ish com­mu­nity much dimin­ished and on the brink of collapse.

Our analy­sis and other polls have shown the French Mus­lim com­mu­nity to be one of the most mod­er­ate Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties in Europe, but the ter­ror­ists who emerged from it have already deeply affected the Jew­ish com­mu­nity. Will Islamic extrem­ists, with their intrin­sic anti-Semitism, rad­i­cal­ize enough French Mus­lims to cause half a mil­lion French Jews to flee? Or, will the endur­ing French val­ues of equal­ity and fra­ter­nity pre­vail among the French Mus­lim com­mu­nity of eight mil­lion as an anti­dote to rad­i­cal­ism? Indeed, let us not for­get, it was a young Mus­lim employee, Las­sana Bathily, who saved six Jews at the Hyper Cacher mar­ket by hid­ing them in a walk-in freezer, an act which could have cost him his life

We all have roles to play. The gov­ern­ment must ensure secu­rity for all French cit­i­zens, allow Jews to live openly as Jews, edu­cate the pub­lic against anti-Semitism, and com­bat rad­i­cal­iza­tion through a vari­ety of means includ­ing bet­ter inte­gra­tion of French Mus­lims into French soci­ety. French Mus­lim lead­ers must encour­age their com­mu­ni­ties to assist the author­i­ties to iden­tify those at risk of rad­i­cal­iza­tion or already rad­i­cal­ized. Polit­i­cal par­ties com­mit­ted to the val­ues of the French Repub­lic must pre­vail over par­ties who oppose those core ideas. Jew­ish lead­ers in France and around the world must con­tinue to raise the alarm and make clear what is at stake: as goes the fight against anti-Semitism, so goes the French Republic.

In the words of Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande, “it is not the Jews who should be leav­ing France, but the anti-Semites,” and of Prime Min­is­ter Valls: because if French Jews leave, “France will no longer be France.”

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