American wariness of foreign military involvement is making it seem “weak and retreating,” warned the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman.
“Make no mistake about it. If what we are seeing now is the beginning of a deep change in American foreign policy, it will be bad for the Jews,” said Foxman, the ADL’s national director, at a conference Thursday marking the group’s 100th anniversary in New York.
“The combination of America’s unsatisfactory involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, together with the financial crisis at home, have generated a broader opposition to American military involvement overseas,” he said.
Citing among other things the recent congressional resistance to authorizing a strike on Syria, Foxman said: “America is being seen as weak and retreating.”
“The world looks at our choices, looks at our public opinion polls, looks at congressional reactions, looks at the paralysis in Washington on budgeting matters and wonders,” he said.
The perception of weakness could harm U.S. efforts to get Iran to end its nuclear push, Foxman warned.
“I hope that we get our act together,” he said. “I hope Congress starts to think of the bigger picture. I hope we are truly able to keep all options on the table, whether vis-à-vis Iran or Syria, without rushing to military action.”
Last month – August 25, to be precise – marked the 100th anniversary of conviction of Leo Frank in Atlanta.
The Leo Frank case was not the impetus for the founding of the Anti-Defamation League. While the organization was founded the same year as the arrest and trial of Frank for the murder of one of his factory workers, a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan, the idea for ADL, conceived by Sigmund Livingston, a Chicago attorney, preceded the case.
Rather than being the catalyst for the organization, the trial served as a confirmation of the wisdom of Livingston that American Jews needed an institution to combat anti-Semitism.
America was a much different place in 1913. Compared to Europe, Jews here lived far more secure and stable lives, but stereotypes and name-calling were still common.
Still, the trial was a shock to American Jews, as was Frank’s lynching two years later. Looking back, we can see this great tragedy as representing the two sides of America and the Jews that still exist today, but in a very different balance and form.
The lynching of Leo Frank
The Frank affair demonstrated that America was not immune to the stereotypes and conspiracy theories about Jews that had characterized European life for centuries. The blood libel charge was rare in America but a related theme, of a Jewish predator attacking a young Christian female, surfaced in the Frank trial.
For American Jews, the Frank affair was seen as a low point in Jewish life in America. The truth is, however, that the most difficult years came later, particularly in the 1930s when anti-Semitic hate groups proliferated and when quotas in universities and other institutions abounded.
If there were doubts about the need for an ADL, that evaporated among significant parts of the community after Frank’s lynching.
Clearly, America has come a long way in the past 100 years. A Leo Frank incident is unthinkable today. Yet the Frank affair still resonates.
Anti-Semitism in the extreme, a completely biased trial and the lynching, may largely be things of the past. But the stereotypes that underlay that extremism are still alive. ADL surveys show that 15 percent of Americans still have anti-Semitic attitudes.
One hundred years later, we are saddened by the memory that it could have happened here, pleased America has come so far, and recommitted to addressing those still living biases, some of which allowed the travesty that was the Leo Frank affair.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with what the Jewish Telegraph Agency described as “Jewish leaders” to “brief” them on the resumption of Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks on Thursday evening, August 8.
Although the briefing was off the record, the JTA quoted unnamed attendants who said several things.
First, that the meeting was dominated by Kerry’s “enthusiam for the resumed talks, and the serious commitment he said [sic] saw from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”
And second, that Kerry “repeated his appeal to American Jews to endorse and support the peace process, first made in early June”.
Invited participants at the briefing were: leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Clearly, for this State Department, as well as the JTA, Jewish “leaders” is synonymous with the entire spectrum from center to center left. Where was the Zionist Organization of America? Where was the Republican Jewish Coalition? Where was Aish HaTorah? Where were any Jewish organizations that might point out the folly of the current talks, or the demand for horrifyingly painful concessions from one side just to start the talks at all, and none from the other side?
Oh, right, those present were the American Jewish CheerLeaders for this Administration and its Middle East efforts all of whom prove an airtight theory usually wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein: the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
In fact, almost exactly four years ago, during Obama’s first term he had his first major sitdown with roughly the same set of Jewish “leaders.” The meeting was called at a time when American Jews who very uneasy about Obama’s interest in being supportive of Israel. At that meeting, one man actually did square his shoulders and dared to make a sideways suggestion to the president.
According to an account in the Washington Post, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein said to the president, “If you want Israel to take risks, then its leaders must know that the United States is right next to them.”
The president’s response did not give Jews or Israelis the assurance they had been seeking. Obama said to Hoenlein, ““Look at the past eight years,” he said, referring to the George W. Bush administration’s relationship with Israel. “During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”
In other words – being such good friends with Israel did nothing for President Bush’s ability to make progress on the peace process. It looks like Obama’s Middle East team holds the same view the president expressed right to the faces of the American “Jewish leaders” back in 2009. And now no one in that group is going to challenge him or his surrogates.
The Albany school district has placed on leave a High School teacher whose persuasive writing assignment was for students to argue that Jews are evil in order to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty, the Albany Times Union reported.
Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said the district is planning to take some disciplinary action against the teacher, saying it could range from a letter of reprimand to termination. She asserted the district would not allow the teacher back in the classroom before the end of the year.
The district will also employ sensitivity trainers from the Anti-Defamation League to work with teachers and students before the end of the school year.
The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.
The assignment read: “Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion. You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”
One of the three classes given the assignment refused to do it. Perhaps that had been the intent of the entire project, to test how far High School students would go to comply with an authority figure?
At a news conference on Friday with members of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of New York, Vanden Wyngaard apologized to the community for the assignment. She said she was shocked at the assignment. “You asked a child to support the notion that the Holocaust was justified, that’s my struggle,” she said. “It’s an illogical leap for a student to make.”
Emily Karandy, 16, told the Times Union she was putting off the assignment, and felt “horrible” when she turned in her essay, “because I didn’t want to think about it and I didn’t want to say anything bad about Jewish people. We thought it would make more sense if we were Jews arguing against Nazis.” Karandy said.
The Times Union first reported on the assignment on Friday. Shelly Shapiro, director of the Jewish Federation of New York, said she was satisfied with the district’s response because administrators are treating the mistake as a learning experience, for teachers and students.
“It’s not how you teach about how prejudice has led to genocide,” she said. “There are ways to do it. This way was not the proper pedagogical way to do it.”
But Reform Rabbi Donald P. Cashman of the B’nai Sholom Congregation, who is the father of three Albany High graduates, empathized with the teacher. “Hypothetical situations are often effective teaching tools,” he told the NY Times, and debating positions one may not believe in can also be valuable.
“We know it’s important for kids to get out of their comfort zones,” Cashman said, noting that the assignment corresponded with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Wednesday afternoon, April 10, a journal from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of law will be presenting former President Jimmy Carter with an award, honoring him for his “human rights record.” The Jewish Press has covered developments concerning this award and responses to it, extensively.
In addition to the many alumni and concerned individuals who spoke out against the Carter Cardozo Award, four of the largest American Jewish organizations have weighed in over the last 24 hours, all expressing their disgust 0ver the decision of a Jewish-affiliated school to give kavod (honor) to someone like Jimmy Carter.
On Tuesday, April 9, two organizations called on Cardozo to rescind the Carter honor. The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement, describing Carter as having a “repellant, decades-long record as an Israel-basher and promoter of Israel’s most vicious enemies, including Hamas.”
The National Council of Young Israel also issued a statement calling on Cardozo to rescind the invitation to Carter. Farley Weiss, the president of the NCYI, wrote, “Mr. Carter’s well-known animus and bias towards the State of Israel has earned him widespread condemnation from Jews and non-Jews alike, and he certainly does not deserve to have any honor bestowed upon by him by an entity that has ties to the Jewish community and the Jewish State.”
On Wednesday, April 10, the day of the award ceremony, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League each publicly criticized Yeshiva University’s law school for choosing to honor and provide a platform to someone with such a well-documented anti-Israel history.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said the Cardozo law students had not exercised “due diligence” before choosing Jimmy Carter as an honoree.
“Had they done so,’ he told the Algemeiner, “they would have discovered that Mr Carter has never resolved his conflict with the Jewish state. His serial bias against Israel is well-documented. That alone should have led tomorrow’s lawyers, whatever their ethnicity or religion, to conclude that President Carter should not receive such an honor.”
The ADL’s Foxman slammed the students, saying, “The students were wrong – they are entitled to be wrong and inappropriate and we are entitled to say that honoring former President Carter is wrong, especially for a Jewish institution…and indeed for any institution.”
In response to Cardozo’s refusal to revoke the award and ceremony for Jimmy Carter, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni issued the following statement:
It is shameful that President Richard Joel of Yeshiva University and Dean Matthew Diller of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School are not prepared to take a moral stand and rescind the invite to honor Jimmy Carter made by the Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution. By providing moral cover for those who would eradicate Israel and who despise America for her democratic values President Carter has caused irreparable harm to Israelis, Jews across the world and democracies across the globe. Cardozo has now provided a similar fig-leaf to President Carter and that is a terrible shame.
Jimmy Carter has an ignominious history of anti-Israel bigotry. He is responsible for helping to mainstream the antisemitic notion that Israel is an apartheid state with his provocatively titled book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, the publication of which prompted mass resignations from the Carter Center. He has met numerous times with leaders of the terror group Hamas, whitewashing their genocidal goals and undermining US efforts to isolate Hamas. And Carter’s record of slandering Israel is so voluminous that both CAMERA and Alan Dershowitz have written books refuting his lies.
It is disingenuous of the Cardozo administration to justify its decision to allow the event to go ahead in the name of “academic freedom”. If a student journal at Cardozo were to invite David Duke to bestow an honor upon him, rest assured that Cardozo administration would not have remained aloof on the matter. By honoring Carter at a bedrock of the American Jewish community, Cardozo administration not only betrays the values of honesty, integrity and truth but it betrays its community of supporters who rightfully view Jimmy Carter as anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with more than a dozen representatives of American Jewish communities on Thursday, March 8, in advance of his trip to Israel. That trip is expected to begin on March 20.
The meeting, which was not on the president’s public list of activities, included a range of political interest representatives, mostly from the centrist to politically left. Although participants were not supposed to discuss the names of those present or what was discussed, enough information became available throughout the day to draw a general sense of what transpired.
The Anti-Defamation League, solidly centrist enough to be included in virtually every government gathering, was represented, along with several other typical participants such as the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was there, as were representatives from the radical leftist Americans for Peace Now and from an organization the political life of which practically began with the Obama presidency, and which seems to be on the decline, J Street, was also represented. Based on many reports it appears there was no one from the unflaggingly pro-Israel end of the spectrum, such as the Zionist Organization of America.
The meeting participants made suggestions of places to visit and some urged the president to take a stronger stand against Iran. Obama’s response was reportedly that “Iran needs to be able to climb down without humiliation.”
The topics of Syria, Turkey and Iran were discussed, but several participants said that the primary focus was on the “Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.” The two day trip will include a two hour trip to Ramallah, during which Obama is expected to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Ardent supporters of Israel had been fearfully speculating over the past week that during his trip President Obama would once again make heavy demands on the Israeli government to engage in unilateral concessions. Those fears appear to be unfounded.
All reports of the meeting reflected the sense that the U.S. president is conscious of the turmoil throughout the Middle East and the constraints that places on parties in the region. Obama reportedly said that he has no intention of “delivering a grand peace plan” during this trip.
Perhaps the U.S. president is unwilling to repeat a major failure of his first term, when he practically demanded there be progress on the “peace process,” but, when met with the reality of the situation, had to chalk up that goal as a failed one.
It appears that what has been widely criticized might actually be good news: without an Israeli governing coalition in place, President Obama can point to that instability as the reason for disappointing those who are insistent that peace be made at all costs – even when that cost is guaranteed to mean war.
The single biggest news that came out of the White House meeting is that it appears even President Obama may have actually learned that the conflict in the Middle East has no simple answers.
Who knew that a president’s pronouncement that the possibility for Middle East peace is bleak would be such a welcome statement?
As evidence continues to mount about why former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is so high on the dance card of Iranian regime supporters and so low on the dance card of most pro-Israel supporters, the politicians supporting Hagel have begun to sound desperate.
New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, may have just relocated this debate from the staid halls of congress and plopped it directly onto the high school dramatics level of bathos.
Schumer, who initially attracted attention when he publicly stated he was not sure about the Hagel nomination, then had an intimate tête á tête (multiply the last digit by many orders of magnitude) with Hagel in the White House.
It was during that bull session that the former Nebraska senator – perhaps with some assistance from others present – apparently convinced Schumer that Hagel was the right man to head the department of defense.
In the weeks since Hagel received Schumer’s hecksher, instead of soaring, Hagel’s star faltered as it grew ever more tarnished, with multiple revelations of anti-Israel and anti-American slurs.
But Hagel’s poor performance at his confirmation hearing was sufficient to convince enough congressional members to block the nomination’s movement to the full senate for a vote there.
There was concern in particular about documents that had not been turned over addressing compensation from potential worrisome sources. In addition, some were uncomfortable with Hagel’s inability to field questions put to him during the vetting process. And then there were the questions of where the former senator stood with respect to various players in the Middle East, based on earlier comments and votes.
Now, while the senate is on a brief hiatus, revelations continue.
And just to show how low Hagel’s star has fallen, we learned that Wednesday morning, while Schumer was giving a talk to some business groups in Manhattan, he shared with them some of the details about the famous conversation he had with Hagel, the one that moved him onto the pro-Hagel for secretary of defense team. Those details were not discussed previously, as they had been described as confidential.
What did Schumer learn? He learned that deep down, Hagel is an uber sensitive guy. All Schumer had to do was explain why it was so hateful to Jews for Hagel to refer to them as the “Jewish lobby,” to share the pain of the double standard Jews have had to endure, and Hagel was cured!
According to Schumer, the scales fell from Hagel’s eyes. And Hagel repented. He felt their pain. How do we know that?
We know that because Schumer brought his Wednesday morning audience into that intimate space with him, and told those listening what he felt. “And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”
Schumer provided inaccurate information about other matters Wednesday morning. He said that “there is not a major Jewish organization against Hagel.”
That’s not true.
The Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) have been on record opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel since President Obama first named him as his choice for secretary of Defense.
The centrist American Jewish Committee has been at least softly opposed to Hagel’s nomination even before the nod was officially given by the president. Back in December, the AJC’s president, David Harris said, “what message would it send to have a Pentagon chief who has very different views on strategies for dealing with Iran, the central foreign policy challenge of our time, than the White House has had to date? Or questions the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group at the same time the Administration is urging the European Union to add the group to its terrorism list?”
And the politically centrist, Democratic Party-leaning Anti-Defamation League joined the AJC in strongly questioning the nomination after information about some of Hagel’s comments, in particular that he was recorded as saying that the “U.S. State Department is an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry,” at a speech at Rutgers University in 2007.
AIPAC NOT TAKE POSITIONS ON NOMINATIONS
Much has been made of the lack of opposition by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but AIPAC never takes a position on a political nomination. The absence of one in this situation should give no comfort to Hagel supporters, or signal anything else to those who have questions and are looking to organizational leadership for direction.
In response to Pamela Geller’s anti-Jihad ad campaign, The Muslim Public Affairs Council is joining with Columbia University’s Muslim Students Association to launch its own ad campaign “to showcase the Islamic principle of ‘repelling evil with what is better‘ (Koran, Ch. 23, Surah Muminoon, verse 96) .”
MPAC says its campaign will “call on New Yorkers to stand together in opposing bigotry and hatred,” in its effort “HeArt Over Hate: Repelling Bigotry through Art & Music.” It’s a clever play on words, but while it looks to deliver on its promise to be repellent what MPAC and the MSA will be showcasing is support for brutal hatred, torture and violence.
The headline act, according to MPAC’s press release, is the Def Jam poet Amir Sulaiman. Sulaiman spews violent, racist, hate-filled language that encourages the torture, shooting, fire-bombing and hostage-taking of American judges, American servicemen, Israelis, and courtroom employees.
In his poem, “Danger,” Sulaiman lauds Fidel Castro, calls for the release of those in Guantanimo, and claims those on death row are as innocent as the judges who sent them there.
While Geller’s ads called for the defeat of jihad and support of Israel, MPAC’s headliner identifies with murdering Israelis:
I’m a teenage Palestinian
Opening fire at an Israeli checkpoint, point blank, check-mate, now what?!
Sulaiman’s poem ends by exhorting his young listeners:
We must kick, bite, yell, scream
We must pray, fast, live, dream, fight, kill and die free!
Another member of the “HeArt Over Hate” event is hip-hop artist and activist Mazzi SoulPurpose. Mazzi fondly recalls the shouts of “Zionism is Racism” from a protest he participated in front of the United Nations in 1988. He also said that based on what he observed on a trip to “Israel/Palestine” what was happening “in Sderot, Ashqelon, & Haifa were extremely pale in comparison to what the settlers are doing in the West Bank.”
Columbia University’s Muslim Students Association is advertising its HeArt Over Hate program as one “that will bring together Muslim performers from all over the city for a common goal: to celebrate peace and pluralism over bigotry and extremism.”
Geller’s ads contain no language of violence, torture or murder. The criticism of the anti-jihad ads is that they labelled those who support jihad as savages. Critics insisted that Geller was calling all Muslims savages. Geller’s ad reads:
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.
In a statement released on Thursday, October 17, MPAC president Salam Al-Marayati, who recently represented the United States at a global human rights conference in Warsaw, said “it is important we counter such ads with messages of peace that are the true representation of what we stand for as Muslims.” Al-Marayati told a radio interviewer on September 11, 2001, that Israel should be on the list of suspects for those responsible for that tragedy. In response to Geller’s ads, he said, “America needs leadership to rise above racism and bigotry.”
Many other community groups labelled Geller a hater for using the term “savage” in her ads.
“We believe the ads are highly offensive and inflammatory,” said Ron Meier, New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called it “anti-Muslim hate,” Juan Cole called it “offensive,” Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, a leader in Rabbis for Human Rights, “deeply misguided and disturbing.” Jewish Council for Public Affairs called it “Bigoted, Divisive and Unhelpful.” In a New York Times op-ed, The President for the Union of Reform Judaism called Geller’s ads, “wrong and repugnant.” Rabbi Rick Jacobs also said their only purpose is to “incite hatred against Muslims.”
Here are the complete lyrics to Amir Sulaiman’s “Danger”
I am not angry; I am anger.
I am not dangerous; I am danger.
I am abominable stress, eliotic, relentless.
I’m a breath of vengeance.
I’m a death sentence.
I’m forsaking repentance,
to the beast in his hench men.
Armed forces and policemen
that survived off of oils and prisons until there cup runneth over with lost souls.
That wear over-sized caps like blind-folds
Shiny necklaces like lassoes
Draggin’ them into black-holes
And I may have to holla out to Fidel Castro
To get my other brothers outta Guantanamo
And the innocents on death row?
It’s probably in the same proportion to criminals in black robes
That smack gavels
That crack domes
That smack gavels
That smash homes
Justice is somewhere between reading sad poems and 40 oz of gasoline crashing through windows
It is between plans and action
It is between writing letters to congressmen and clocking the captain
It is between raising legal defense funds and putting a gun to the bailiff and taking the judge captive
It is between prayer and fasting
Between burning and blasting
Freedom is between the mind and the soul
Between the lock and the load
Between the zeal of the young and the patience of the old
Freedom is between a finger and the trigger
It is between the page and the pen
It is between the grenade and the pin
Between righteous and keeping one in the chamber
So what can they do with a cat with a heart like Turner
A mind like Douglass
A mouth like Malcolm
And a voice like Chris?!
That is why I am not dangerous; I am danger
I am not angry, I am anger
I am abominable, stress, Eliotic relentless
I’m a death sentence
For the beast and his henchmen
Politicians and big businessmen
I’m a teenage Palestinian
Opening fire at an Israeli checkpoint, point blank, check-mate, now what?!
I’m a rape victim with a gun cocked to his cock, cock BANG! Bangkok! Now what?!
I am sitting Bull with Colonel Custard’s [sic] scalp in my hands
I am Sincay with a slave trader’s blood on my hands
I am Jonathan Jackson and a gun to my man
I am David with a slingshot and a rock
And if David lived today, he’d have a Molotov cocktail and a Glock
So down with Goliath, I say down with Goliath
But we must learn, know, write, read
We must kick, bite, yell, scream
We must pray, fast, live, dream, fight, kill and die free!