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June 20, 2016 5

LGBT Communities at Risk: Another Case for Immigration Reform

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

The assault on the les­bian, gay, bisex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity in Orlando last week­end that left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded in its wake was in many ways unprece­dented and, in many oth­ers, far too famil­iar. It was the dead­liest mass pub­lic shoot­ing in Amer­i­can his­tory. And it shat­tered sacred moments of mul­ti­ple communities.

First and fore­most, it vio­lated Pride Month, des­ig­nated as the time of year when LGBT peo­ple and their allies can cel­e­brate their dif­fer­ence. The vio­lence occurred dur­ing the week­end when we marked the Jew­ish fes­ti­val of Shavuot — the cul­mi­na­tion of a 49-day count between our fes­ti­val of lib­er­a­tion from slav­ery in Egypt and the moment when the Jews remem­ber receiv­ing the wis­dom of our holy Torah at Mount Sinai. And the attack tore at the peace of Ramadan, when Mus­lims seek to be closer to God and to focus on their inner selves.

All of the Abra­hamic reli­gions are rooted in texts that pave the way to peace. It is in these times that we must find those strands of faith which bind us together. Already, many faith com­mu­ni­ties have come together in cities across the coun­try, united in grief, stand­ing in sol­i­dar­ity with the LGBT com­mu­nity, and look­ing for answers as to how a lone gun­man with hatred in his heart could wreak such devastation.

But even in this moment, we must take note that it is not just in this coun­try where the LGBT com­mu­nity is at risk. Across the globe, LGBT peo­ple face per­se­cu­tion, legal­ized dis­crim­i­na­tion, and the threat of both state-sanctioned vio­lence and bru­tal­ity at the hands of non-state actors.

Across the globe, LGBT peo­ple face per­se­cu­tion, legal­ized dis­crim­i­na­tion, and the threat of both state-sanctioned vio­lence and bru­tal­ity at the hands of non-state actors.

We have seen the mem­bers of the Islamic State ter­ror­ist group (ISIS) lit­er­ally throw indi­vid­u­als from rooftops, sim­ply for being sus­pected of the “crime” of being gay. Hamas exe­cutes indi­vid­u­als with­out trial for the same “offense.”The Islamic Repub­lic of Iran also has been known to hang young men sus­pected of homosexuality.

The vio­lence in Orlando and the ele­vated risk of vio­lence that LGBT peo­ple face around the world can­not be sep­a­rated. There is some debate about the motives of the gun­man, Omar Mateen. Dur­ing the crime, he claimed alle­giance to ISIS and his appar­ent homo­pho­bia is con­sis­tent with their big­oted teach­ings. At the same time, some have claimed he was wrestling with his own repressed sex­ual identity.

What­ever the cause, accord­ing to the U.S. Office for Refugee Reset­tle­ment, an esti­mated 3,500 LGBT refugees land on our shores every year, seek­ing to escape tor­ment in their home­lands. This also is true of the mil­lions of Mus­lims flee­ing the bru­tal­ity tear­ing apart their home­lands, such as the civil war in Syria or the destruc­tion of Iraq. They are not alone — we also see other embat­tled minori­ties, includ­ing Chris­tians from the Mid­dle East and abused women from around the world com­ing to our shores, seek­ing refuge from vio­lence and oppression.

As we pause and con­sider World Refugee Day, our com­mon human­ity and Jew­ish val­ues com­pel us to hear their cries and embrace these victims.

The notions espoused by cer­tain pub­lic fig­ures of refus­ing refuge to the down­trod­den, or reject­ing wid­ows and chil­dren at our bor­ders sim­ply because of the sins of a hand­ful of their co-religionists, is not a pol­icy. It’s a trav­esty, an affront to all notions of decency. We can do bet­ter on behalf of those who have lost everything.

To date, the trickle of such refugees per­mit­ted entry into this coun­try pales in com­par­i­son to the scores of mil­lions who come to our shores every year through busi­ness and tourism visas. In 2015, the U.S. Depart­ment of Stateapproved 10.8 mil­lion non­im­mi­grant travel visas, as com­pared to 531,463 immi­grant visas.

Nonethe­less, we should strengthen the screen­ing processes to ensure that those who come to our shores are legit­i­mate refugees who need our sup­port. And indi­vid­u­als hail­ing from illib­eral democ­ra­cies undoubt­edly need edu­ca­tion and inte­gra­tion to main­stream them into our lib­eral democ­racy to ensure they embrace and under­stand our civic cul­ture and com­mon values.

On this day, as we acknowl­edge and ele­vate the plight of refugees around the world, let us root our work in chesed, the Jew­ish value of benev­o­lence and com­pas­sion. Let us remind our­selves that we were once strangers, as we are told in the Torah and as we have expe­ri­enced through­out history.

Let us remind our­selves that we were once strangers, as we are told in the Torah and as we have expe­ri­enced through­out history.

We can anchor this approach in the endur­ing words of Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Lib­erty: “Give me your tired, your poor; Your hud­dled masses yearn­ing to breathe free….” And we can gal­va­nize this com­mit­ment by reclaim­ing what the ter­ror­ist attempted to take from us in Orlando — our com­mon humanity.

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June 2, 2016 6

Winners of Iran’s Holocaust Cartoon Contest Announced

A French car­toon­ist with a long record of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel art work has been named the win­ner of Iran’s most recent Holo­caust car­toon con­test.  Zeon, who the Iran­ian media said was arrested in the past for his “anti-Zionist” car­toons in 2015, won the $12,000 prize.  His win­ning work fea­tures what appears to be the entry gate of a Nazi-era death camp atop a cash reg­is­ter with six mil­lion in cash inside.

The next day, the Iran­ian Cultural-Art Masaf Insti­tute announced a new  car­toon con­test – this time call­ing for sub­mis­sions on the  “Zion­ist Caliphate” that will focus on “Zion­ism, ter­ror­ism and racism” and “ISIL ter­ror­ism and geno­cide in the name of reli­gion and to the ben­e­fit of the Zion­ists.” Con­spir­acy the­o­ries link­ing ISIS and Israel are com­mon in the region.

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May 19, 2016 1

Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Exhibition Opens

Iran’s newest “Holo­caust con­test” exhi­bi­tion opened on May 14 in a gallery in Tehran. Accord­ing to Iran­ian news reports, the con­test received over 864 sub­mis­sions from par­tic­i­pants around the world.  Of those, 150 car­toons from 50 coun­tries were accepted, with rep­re­sen­ta­tion of car­toon­ists from Brazil, China, Colom­bia, France, Indone­sia, Peru, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, among others.

Con­test orga­nizer Masoud Sho­jai Tabatabaei insisted the event was not to deny or cel­e­brate the Nazi Holo­caust, but to call out the “Holo­caust” being wit­nessed with “the big killings by the Zion­ist regime in Gaza and Palestine.”Iranian Holocaust Cartoon

Of course this is not the first such con­test held in Iran, nor the first time the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment and its organs have politi­cized, denied and abused the mem­ory of the Holo­caust and its victims.

In the exhi­bi­tion, the car­toons are divided into two themes. The first relate to the Holo­caust; the sec­ond com­pare Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu to Hitler. Pho­tos from the exhi­bi­tion reveal car­toons fea­tur­ing swastikas and other anti-Semitic imagery.

The con­test has earned the con­dem­na­tion of the State Depart­ment (“abhor­rent”), UNESCO (“goes against the uni­ver­sal val­ues of tol­er­ance and respect”) and the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry (“the mur­der of 6 mil­lion men, women and chil­dren dur­ing the Holo­caust, for which we Ger­mans bear guilt and respon­si­bil­ity, must not be aban­doned to ridicule”).

The con­test win­ners will be announced on May 30.

If you’re won­der­ing how much one can earn from a car­toon lam­poon­ing or dimin­ish­ing an act which killed six mil­lion Jews, it is reported that the win­ning car­toon will be awarded a sum of $12,000.

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