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October 14, 2015

As Israelis Are Stabbed, Obsession With “Even-Handedness” Morally Reprehensible

The international community’s obsession with “even-handedness” in comments on Palestinian terrorism is morally reprehensible.  The recent spate of Palestinians stabbings Israelis has generated too many calls for restraint by both sides and too few condemnations of those wielding the knives (and of those urging the attacks.)

Spain is the current President of the UN Security Council.  Yesterday its government expressed “great concern over the extreme gravity of the situation in Israel and in Palestine, and its serious regret at the successive violent attacks and confrontations that have lead [sic] to the deaths of at least 6 Israelis and 29 Palestinians.”  Spain then called for “restraint from all parties and for them to decisively tackle this swath of violence,” further describing the situation as a “dangerous spiral towards violence.”

Who held the knife and who had it plunged into their chest?  Who was shot after murdering innocent bystanders?  Impossible to know, based on Spain’s statement.

Anti-Israel Incitement from Twitter

Anti-Israel Incitement from Twitter

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, similarly – and uncharacteristically for him – conflated terrorists and civilian victims.  His October 6 statement, the only one he has issued since the stabbings began, reads, “The Secretary-General is profoundly alarmed by the growing number of deadly incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  The last few days of clashes, which resulted in the death of four Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, and hundreds injured, are yet another worrisome sign of violence potentially spiralling out of control.  The Secretary-General condemns the killings and looks to the Government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation into the incidents, including whether the use of force was proportional.”

Of the four dead Palestinians referenced in Ban’s statements, it appears that at least two were killed while committing terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. One, Muhannad Halabi, was shot by police after he brutally stabbed to death Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Banita in the Old City on October 3. The second, Fadi Alon, was shot after he stabbed a 15 year-old Jewish boy outside the Old City on October 4.  The murdered Israelis are not mentioned, inferred only by the reference to “deadly incidents.”

Moral clarity requires distinguishing dead terrorists from their dead victims.  Those in leadership positions in the international community who fail to make such distinctions should not be surprised when their other demands are ignored.

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July 31, 2014

Anti-Semitism in Spain

Over the past week, anti-Semitism has come to the forefront in Spain with three significant events.

Antonio Gala, a leading columnist for El Mundo, a major Spanish daily newspaper, wrote on July 24 that Israel’s military operation in Gaza showed why Jews “have been so frequently expelled.”  He continued, “What is surprising is they persist.  Either they are not good, or someone is poisoning them.”

At an anti-Israel rally in Ceuta, Spain, a speaker made blatantly anti-Semitic comments and threats against Jews.  The demonstration was held last Friday afternoon at 7pm, just 50 yards from the Ceuta synagogue, which felt compelled to cancel Shabbat services.  The speaker said, “The Jews, for decades, for thousands of years, have wanted to exterminate the prophets and everyone on the face of the Earth who is not a Hebrew.  Muslim brothers, Allah-hu akbar!  In the Torah of the Jews, it says that they are the chosen people, that they are the chosen people.  I swear to G-d that we will put fear into you until Judgment Day.  Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar!”  Though several local politicians were in attendance, none appear to have voiced any condemnation.

The cumulative effect of incidents such as these has caused anguish in the Spanish Jewish community.

The former president of the Federation of Spanish Jewish Communities, Jacobo Israel Garzon, wrote about his disillusionment with Spanish society in a July 29 op-ed in another major newspaper, ABC.  In an emotional article, entitled, “Disappointment and Sadness,” he laments the anti-Semitism he sees in Spain and ponders whether Jews in Germany felt the same in the 1930s.  He asks himself how he could have been so blind, having studied in Spain, married in Spain, raised children and welcomed grandchildren in Spain, worked all his life in Spain, considered Spanish his language and Spain his country, and yet, after seventy years, to not have seen how many of his neighbors and countrymen judge him – and hate him – for who he is and not for what he does.

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May 22, 2014

Sports Discussions Marred By Hate On Twitter

After Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid in the Euroleague final on Sunday over 18,000 anti-Semitic messages were posted on Twitter in an outpouring of hatred against Jews.twitter-spain-hate

Twitter users created the hashtag “#putosjudios” (“#fuckingjews”) to spread their anti-Semitic messages in real time via Twitter. Among the anti-Jewish tweets posted in reaction to Real Madrid’s loss were.

  • “Jews to the gas chamber. Go Madrid.”
  • “Fucking Jews. This would not have happened with Hitler.”
  • “Maccabi will shower after the game…But in the gas chamber, I hope.”
  • “Now I understand Hitler and his hate for the Jews.”

Several Jewish and anti-racism organizations in Spain filed a criminal complaint against five identified Twitter users for incitement to hatred, defamation and glorification of terrorism.

In July 2013 in the U.S., Twitter was misused for similar purposes after Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended from Major League Baseball for the season for using performance enhancing drugs. Responses on Twitter included “Ryan Braun is a lying Jew!!! #kike” and “leave it to a jew to cheat the system, deceive people, then tarnish other’s reputations. Fuck you asshole.”

Jews are not the only targets when bigots take to Twitter to express their views. ADL spoke out earlier this month when racially-motivated comments flooded Twitter soon after Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who happens to be Black Canadian, scored the game-winning goal in a National Hockey League playoff game against the Boston Bruins.

Such online hate underscores the critical need for education on anti-Semitism and bigotry. A recent global poll on anti-Semitism conducted by ADL revealed that 29% of people in Spain hold anti-Semitic attitudes and 48% of them think Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. In the U.S. the respective numbers were 9% and 22%.

ADL ardently sup­ports the right to free speech and advocates for strong terms of ser­vice or com­mu­nity stan­dards that address aggres­sive or mali­cious behav­ior online. Twit­ter does not pro­vide even the most basic “Flag­ging” mech­a­nism for com­plaints which is widely used on the expe­ri­enced plat­forms run by Google and Facebook.

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