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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

Agudath Israel slams NJ Gay Therapy Law

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Agudath Israel of America condemned a New Jersey law prohibiting gay reparative therapy for minors as an infringement on religious freedom.

The statement from Agudah came just hours after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill barring licensed therapists from providing treatment to help gay teenagers become straight.

“The new law tramples on the rights of mental health therapists to engage freely in their profession, and it unfairly denies teenagers seeking therapy for issues that are troubling them the ability to obtain professional help,” the group said.

“Under the new law, therapists, social workers or counselors who work with minors on these issues risk losing their licenses to practice their professions, and minors who sincerely want to obtain professional help will have nowhere to turn. This is an unconscionable infringement on personal liberty and a trampling of personal rights, including religious and free speech rights.”

New Jersey joins California as the only states with laws barring so-called reparative therapy. The New Jersey bill passed both houses of the state Legislature in June with bipartisan support.

In signing the bill into law, Christie, a moderate Republican who is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential run in 2016, appended a note indicating his reluctance to intrude on parents’ ability to determine the right treatment for their children.

“However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children, we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” Christie wrote. “The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

Enemedia Watch: Look Who’s Supporting Free Speech Restrictions

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

The enemedia supporting the suppression and restriction of free speech in America presents an interesting paradox. Are they so clueless or self-important that they think they will be spared? Didn’t the Obama administration spying on the AP and other news organizations teach them anything?

Obama’s Department of Justice seeks to criminalize criticism of Islam — a declaration of war on the first amendment. Once the first amendment is overthrown, it’s over.

I was there — here is what happened.

This Tennessean ‘news’ report is egregious and wrong: Diversity event draws raucous crowd in Coffee County

MANCHESTER — Hundreds of people turned out at the Manchester Convention Center Tuesday evening for an event billed as a discussion of public discourse in a diverse society, with a particular focus on the Muslim religion.

People were turned away at the door because the facility was too full. Some grew angry and started hurling terms like “Communist,” “Socialist” and “Muslim” at law enforcement officials.

The indoor event, sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council, was countered by a large group of protesters, both outside and inside the facility. Some who made it in before admission was cut off continuously interrupted the speakers.

The interruptions were so intense at times that attendee Elaine Smith, 55, of Bedford County, said she was afraid of other audience members.

“I came here because I wanted to learn something … but I couldn’t hear because the audience was so disrespectful,” she said. “I cried when I got here. It makes me really sad especially because these people say they’re Christians. The God I worship doesn’t teach hate.”

During the keynote speech given by Bill Killian, US Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, audience members continually interrupted, making it difficult to understand what was said. Killian brought a power point presentation that covered the First and 14th Amendments and what constitutes a hate crime, among other things. He read the First Amendment verbatim, between interruptions.

And here is a report from Yahoo:

DOJ Attorney Cracks Down on Anti-Muslim Hate Speech By Maryam Khan Ansari | Yahoo!

Tennessee DOJ Attorney Bill Killian Wants to Address Anti-Muslim Hate Speech — but Many Are Protesting His Efforts

Internet postings with anti-Muslim hate messages may soon be subject to federal criminal laws, according to Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

On Tuesday, Killian and the FBI office in Knoxville, Tenn., and Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, will be holding a meeting with Muslim leaders in the area.

Killian and Kenneth Moore, the FBI special agent from the Knoxville office, will be special speakers at a special meeting entitled “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society.” They will be speaking with the Muslim community in Knoxville to inform them of their civil rights, as they pertain to hate speech and hate crimes.

Twitter feeds, however, have been rife with calls to action against the event.

The controversy is largely due to Killian’s statements regarding a recent Facebook posting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West. In that posting, West pictured a man pointing a double-barreled shotgun at the camera, with the caption reading “How to Wink at a Muslim.”

Killian has stated that he plans to use federal civil rights laws to curb hate speech, if the speech is made incident to a hate crime. Now, many online pundits, including Pamela Geller, are accusing Killian and the Department of Justice of attempting to criminalize Islamophobic hate speech.

The real issue for many is that hate speech is generally protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech incites violence. Attempts to prosecute people for hateful speech on social media will almost certainly face backlash, as the First Amendment is one of the cornerstones of American law.

“The hate speech would have to pose a direct threat to an individual,” said Dr. Charles Haynes, of the First Amendment Center, when asked how Killian could prosecute for hateful statements made in social media.

“It’s a mystery to me,” Haynes replied, when asked which statute he thought Killian would use to prosecute hate speech.

But Killian claims that he isn’t seeking to stifle the First Amendment’s protections on free speech. Rather, he’s concerned with the impediment on the free practice of one’s religion — another key aspect of the First Amendment.

“People are free to hate, as long as they don’t act on it,” Killian said.

Killian wants to make one thing very clear: that he does not plan to prosecute anyone for posting hateful comments on social media. Rather, he intends to use hate speech as evidence in the prosecution of hate crimes.

“Hateful statements directed at another will be used as evidence in a hate crime,” he said.

Using a hypothetical example, Killian explained:

“Imagine if you and I were planning to vandalize a mosque and we conspired over Facebook. We set a time to meet at that mosque through Facebook chat. Those statements would be used as evidence in prosecuting a conspiracy to commit a hate crime. By no means are we prosecuting anyone in violation of the First Amendment.”

Despite this, many plan to protest, as Pamela Geller’s website Atlas Shrugs, is calling for a demonstration outside the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.

This isn’t fazing Killian, however.

“Our district has a 96 percent conviction rate,” Killian says, “and we’ve never had a conviction overturned for violation of First Amendment.”

Liberal Hypocrisy on Religion and Speech

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Most Americans are absolutely committed to the ideas in the First Amendment, in particular to freedom of speech and religion. Although the Bill of Rights only deals with actions taken by government, these ideals permeate the culture.

But particularly in the case of the liberal elite — academics, media and entertainment people, intellectuals — there are limitations.

For example, “religion” has a special meaning for them: in the liberal view a “religion” ought to only be about “spiritual things” which by definition do not impinge on a believer’s public actions or politics, and “ritual,” which consists of silly behavior on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (depending on the religion).

They are extremely uncomfortable with religion when it crosses the line into actions that might affect others. So, for example, it is considered a damning (no pun intended) indictment of anti-abortion activists to accuse them of holding their position “for religious reasons.” Such reasons, they insist, can’t justify actions which might affect anyone other than the believer.

Unitarian Universalists, Reform Jews and liberal Protestants tend to be politically liberal, and while they might say that their politics are determined by their religion, it’s probably the other way around. Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians are more likely to derive their politics from their beliefs, which bothers liberals.

And then there is Islam. Islam is the most political of religions, in theory at least, calling for the implementation of Sharia in any society where Muslims live. And Judging by the actions of many believers, this is not just theoretical. Since Sharia establishes a strict hierarchy of rights with male Muslims on top, it very definitely affects non-Muslims.

But while liberals, especially Jewish liberals, object strenuously to religion-based politics among Catholics and Evangelicals — take this, for example — there is total, deafening silence from this quarter about Islam. The inconsistency is striking.

Somehow it has become acceptable to dump on Christian Zionists for their political activities, but absolutely taboo to criticize Muslim groups, some of which support Hamas or Hizballah. Using language identical to that applied to neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan, organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) accuse anyone who is critical of political Islam, or who suggests that radical Muslims present a threat to democracy in the U.S., of “hate” and “bigotry.” Here is SPLC’s list of “active anti-Muslim groups” which even includes the blog “Sultan Knish“, and of course the provocative “Atlas Shrugs” of Pamela Geller.

Interestingly, the SPLC’s classification of “hate groups” by ideology doesn’t include a category for radical Islam!

The mention of Geller brings me back to the ideals of the First Amendment, in particular, freedom of speech. This Sunday, Geller was scheduled to speak at an Orthodox Synagogue in Great Neck, Long Island, on the subject “The Imposition of Sharia in America.” A great deal of pressure was applied to try to stop the event, from the extremist Jewish Voice for Peace group, to the liberal Rabbi Jerome Davidson, retired rabbi of a Reform congregation in Great Neck, and Habeeb Ahmed, an officer of the Islamic Center of Long Island and a member of the county’s Human Rights Commission, as well as the Interfaith Alliance — Long Island Chapter, etc.

The synagogue resisted the pressure until yesterday, when they threw in the towel in response to a threat to stage a march on the synagogue on Sunday morning (during Sunday school). Here is the statement by the synagogue’s board (obtained by Geller):

As the notoriety and media exposure of the planned program this Sunday have increased, so has the legal liability and potential security exposure of our institution and it’s [sic] member families. In an era of heightened security concerns it is irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate. Accordingly, the Great Neck Synagogue Men’s Club will no longer be sponsoring the appearance of Pamela Geller this coming Sunday, and no event will be taking place in our facility.”

Executive Board
Great Neck Synagogue

I think it is clear from this that the board has not accepted the arguments of the left/liberal/Muslim opposition that Ms. Geller is a dangerous hate speaker who should not be given a platform (Robert Nuxoll of the Interfaith Alliance said her talk was “the equivalent of a church in the 1930s inviting a representative of the Nazi Party to speak,” and Habeeb Ahmed called her “the personification of an Islamophobe”).

Nevertheless, they have been frightened by an implicit threat of violence into canceling the event. I have personally faced a mass demonstration of angry Muslims, and can tell you that it is scary.

The liberal attitude to free-speech-that-they-disagree-with is never nice. In fact, my motivation for writing this blog was originally that my attempts to publicly present Israel’s case — even to Jewish audiences — was frustrated by “liberal” objections.

As reported in the Jewish Press, Geller has been invited to speak on Sunday at a Chabad house in Great Neck and another synagogue in New Jersey, and intends to do so.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Obama’s Call for Protest in Israel

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

President Obama’s visit to Israel, and particularly his speech to 500 university students, was a winner at many levels including one he probably had not even considered. In how many countries can the President of the United States call forth the passions of the local people and have confidence that he is calling forth the “better angels”? He did it in Israel.

The President touched on deeply felt emotions for Israelis, worked hard at erasing the faux pas of relating Israel’s national origins to the Holocaust, twice declined to call Israeli settlements “illegal” while standing next to P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, and he praised Israeli technology, ingenuity, democracy and culture. Remarking on the upheaval in the Arab world he said, “So much of what people in the region are seeking is happening here [Israel].”

Yes, that is something he should have said in Cairo or Ramallah. And yes, he called for a “two state solution” that has little chance of success. And yes, yes, he made false analogies between Palestinians and Israelis. And yes, yes, yes, he called Abbas, whose single elected term expired in 2009 and who has been increasingly repressive and willing to incite against Israel and the U.S., a “partner.” And no, Israel cannot “reverse an undertow of isolation,” that is generated by other people in other lands who do not accept that, at the end of any “peace process,” Israel will still exist.

But okay. Those are things that should have been and were expected from President Obama. It was also expected that he would encourage his youthful, carefully selected, leftish college student audience to push the rightish government of Israel to do what he could not convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to do. He directly asked the audience to pressure its government.

In full campaign mode, Mr. Obama told them:

Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see. (People can) overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents… Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward.

That is a call to protest, to political insurrection. The interesting part is that he assumed igniting a political firestorm in Israel would have a positive effect.

Unspoken — maybe because the President had not expressly thought it — was that if young Israelis “do it,” if they “create the change they want to see,” what they create will be a force for good. He assumed without saying it that the voices they would raise would be voices for peace. He assumed without saying it that Israeli hopes are hopes for peace. And he is right, although it should be said that hopes for peace reside all along the Israeli political spectrum. Those of the right want peace no less than those of the left; they just have different levels of skepticism.

But what if it is not peace in the hearts of the people, but something malign?

Mr. Obama referenced his Cairo speech to the Israelis:

Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want — they’re not so different from you. The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza. That is where peace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.

Certainly the beginning of the Arab uprising in Tunis and in Tahrir Square was focused on jobs and justice (although not on “peace” with Israel or anyone else). But the result was not the flowering of education, work and peaceful relations. It was the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, violence and the collapse of the Egyptian economy. And clearly many of the Brotherhood’s supporters are young Egyptians. Intolerance for Egypt’s Coptic citizens and the increasing violence in several cities attest to the dangers of calling for changes in or of government. Without wanting a return to the repression of the old government, it is safe to say that the revolution did not bring forth a better one.

Seventy Years Later, White Rose Anti-Nazi Resistance Still Resonates

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Though Sophie Scholl and the students of the White Rose resistance were executed by the Nazis seventy years ago last month, the example they set of courage in the face of authoritarian repression is as relevant today as it was seven decades ago.

Their crime: Daring to rouse the consciousness of their countrymen in the face of Nazi Germany’s destruction of all civil rights and its mass murder of European Jews.

In 1933, when Sophie was twelve and her brother, Hans, was fifteen, the Scholl siblings rejected their Lutheran upbringing and their parents’ Christian humanism and instead embraced Hitler’s philosophy of racial superiority, becoming leaders in the Hitler Youth.

But when Hans was arrested and convicted in 1938 for a same-sex relationship he had had three years earlier, when he was sixteen, their admiration for Hitler quickly ended. Gradually they became activists against the Nazi cause. By 1942, the siblings were engaging in daring forms of nonviolent resistance.

Newborn-030113In May 1942, they dubbed themselves the White Rose and joined with a handful of friends at the University of Munich to produce what became a staccato burst of six impassioned anti-Nazi leaflets. Reproducing thousands in their secret headquarters over a nine-month period – ages before the push-button efficiency of the Internet – they made dangerous train trips to distribute the leaflets throughout Germany. They mailed them to sixteen cities – Stuttgart, Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg among them – in a bid to mislead the Gestapo into thinking theirs was a broad-based movement and not just a handful of students.

“Since the beginning of the war,” they declared in their second leaflet in June 1942, “300,000 Jews have been murdered in the most bestial manner. This is a crime unparalleled in human history – a crime against the dignity of Man. But why do we tell you these things when you already know them? Everyone wants to be exonerated, but you cannot be, because everyone is guilty, guilty, guilty.”

In their fourth leaflet, they wrote: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

On Feb. 18, 1943, Sophie and Hans climbed a high gallery at the University of Munich’s vast atrium. From there they scattered hundreds of their sixth leaflet down upon the heads of astonished students below in what was called the only public protest by Germans against Nazism ever to be staged.

Spotted almost immediately, they were arrested by the Gestapo and subjected to grueling interrogation. Sophie, Hans and their comrade Christoph Probst were tried in a show trial in Munich by Hitler’s “hanging judge,” Roland Freisler. They were condemned to death. Just four days after their arrest, the three were beheaded by guillotine. Hans was twenty-four, Sophie twenty-one.

But their message lived on. Their last leaflet, smuggled out to the West, was dropped by the tons over Germany. Nobel laureate Thomas Mann broadcast back to Germany from American exile, praising the “splendid young people” who “at the time when Germany and Europe were still enveloped in the dark of night, knew and publicly declared” the ugly truth about Nazism in an attempt to bring about the “dawning” of a “new faith in freedom and honor.”

Today, the White Rose students are icons in Germany. In a nationwide TV competition to choose the top ten most important Germans of all time, German voters chose Sophie and Hans Scholl for fourth place – beating out Goethe, Gutenberg, Bach, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein.

A German film, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, the same time that “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” was published. Its Hebrew edition just appeared in Israel in time for the seventieth anniversary of their extraordinary protest and executions.

Despite all this, the story of the White Rose resistance remains barely known by the general public outside Germany.

But heroism like theirs is being replicated in countries around the world. There is Malala Yousafazai, the now-thirteen-year-old Pakistani children’s rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October and now says she’s ready to fight on. There are Chinese dissidents like Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010 but is languishing in a Chinese prison.

The West Ignores Abbas, Hamas Silencing of Critics

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

In another story the Western media apparently refuses to cover, any Palestinian who dares to criticize Hamas or the Palestinian Authority risks being arrested or summoned for interrogation.

Palestinian journalists are now hoping to bring this to the attention of President Barack Obama when he meets with President Mahmoud Abbas next month.

The journalists say they want United States and the rest of the world to know that the crackdown on freedom of expression in both West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza Strip is designed to hide the fact that Palestinians are governed by two repressive regimes that have no respect for human rights and democracy.

Over the past few weeks, several Palestinian journalists have been arrested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for reportedly criticizing the policies and leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

But this most recent assault on freedom of expression does not seem to bother the Western countries that fund the Palestinian Authority or Hamas supporters from all around the world.

As far as many Western governments and journalists are concerned, physical assaults on Palestinian reporters in the Gaza Strip are fine as long as they are not perpetrated by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority crackdown on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank is also fine as long as Israel is not involved.

Most of the assaults against journalists took place in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas continues to display zero tolerance towards critics or anyone who dares to say something “controversial.”

In the past few weeks, at least 16 journalists from the Gaza Strip were arrested or summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities in the context of a campaign aimed at intimidating the local media.

Some of the journalists were released only after Hamas forced them to sign a document stating that they would refrain from attending press conferences or covering various activities unless they obtained permission in advance.

The Hamas authorities have also raided the homes of several journalists, confiscating their computers and notebooks.

In some instances, Hamas’s security forces have forced journalists to provide them with their passwords and usernames in order to check their emails.

Following is a list of the names of journalists from the Gaza Strip who have been arrested or interrogated by Hamas in recent weeks: Ashraf Abu Khwaisan, Ala Dawaheed, Amru Dawaheed, Munir al-Munairawi, Mustafa Migdad, Majdi Islim, Juma’ah Abu Shomar, Hisham al-Ju’ub, Muayad Assali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad al-Kahlout, Esam Madi, Hussein Abdel Jawwad, Abdel Karim Hijji and Yusef Hammad.

Three other journalists, Khaled Thabet, Mohamed Za’anin and Muthana al-Najjar, were beaten by Hamas policemen and thugs while covering various activities in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the situation has not been any better for Palestinian journalists and political activists.

Just last week, a Palestinian Authority court sentenced 26-year-old Anas Said Awwad to one year in prison for “insulting” President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook.

Awwad was found guilty of depicting Abbas as a member of the Real Madrid soccer team.

The man was convicted on the basis of a 50-year-old Jordanian law that bans “extending one’s tongue” against the Jordanian monarch.

The Palestinian Authority often uses this law to punish anyone who posts comments against Abbas or other leaders in Ramallah.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority goes after Palestinians who use Facebook to express their views.

At least three other Palestinians, Nizar Banat, Mamdouh Hamamreh and Jihad Harb have been targeted by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

Over the past week, Palestinian Authority security forces also arrested two journalists, Ala al-Titi and Mohamed Awad.

Safad Nazzal, a Palestinian female activist who criticized the Palestinian Authority for failing to pay more attention to the case of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has also been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

It now remains to be seen whether Obama and other Western leaders and government officials, as well as human rights groups, will pay attention to the ongoing attempt to silence Palestinian journalists and political activists. Failure to do so will only encourage Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to continue their assaults on freedom of expression.‭‮

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

The Obligation to Avoid Anti-Semitic Behavior

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The Gerald Scarfe Sunday Times cartoon controversy has followed a familiar pattern, with some arguing that the depiction of the bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls – published on Holocaust Memorial Day – evoked the classic antisemitic blood libel, while others (including Guardian contributors and cartoonists) dissented, claiming that Scarfe had no racist intent and was merely critiquing the policies of a head of state who happened to be a Jew.

In response to some who have noted, in Scarfe’s defense, that he had previously depicted Syria’s Assad using a similar blood motif, Stephen Pollard of The JC aptly noted: “But there’s never been an anti-Alawite blood libel, and the context matters. The blood libel is central to the history of antisemitism.”

Though Scarfe may have indeed possessed no antisemitic intent whatsoever, Pollard is stressing that the effect of the cartoon simply can’t be ignored, and that historical context matters.

When we talk about antisemitism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ on this blog we’re not claiming to possess some sort of political mentalism – a piercing moral intuition which grants us access to the souls of their journalists and contributors.  Similarly, we’re not suggesting that we can ever tell with any degree of certainty that, when we argue that criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism, the writer who’s the focus of our ire is necessarily haunted by dark Judeophobic thoughts.

Rather, many of us who talk seriously about antisemitism are skilled at identifying common tropes, narratives and graphic depictions of Jews which are based on prejudices, stereotypes and mythology and which have historically been employed by those who have engaged in cognitive or physical war against Jews.

Though I’m now an Israeli, an apt analogy on the moral necessity of understanding and being sensitive about the racist context of seemingly benign ideas can be derived from my experience growing up in America.

Those who grew up in the U.S. and inherited not the guilt but the moral legacy of slavery and segregation intuitively understand that we owe African-Americans an earnest commitment to strenuously avoid employing the linguistic, cultural and political currency of racism’s tyrannical reign.  Though race relations have matured immeasurably by any standard, and codified bigotry all but eliminated, there are, nonetheless, unwritten prohibitions against language which, even though often unintended, hearkens back to the past, evoking the haunting memory of the nation’s past sins.

In America, comedians don’t do black-face routines, in which white performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person.  A mainstream newspaper wouldn’t publish a cartoon depicting an African-American as lazy and shiftless, nor would any publication present a black public figure (in any context) as  a boot licking  ’Uncle Tom‘.  And, someone using the N-word (in public or private) would be rightfully socially ostracized or at least stigmatized as crude racist.

Such political taboos in America have developed organically over time in response to a quite particular historical chapter, and are recognized by most as something akin to an unwritten social contract on the issue of race.  White Americans can not ever fully understand black pain, the learned cognitive responses from their collective consciousness, but it is reasonable of them to expect that we not recklessly tread, even if without malice, on their sacred shared memory.

Further, whites who honor this implied covenant – and avoid evoking such narratives and imagery – by and large don’t bemoan the so-called “restrictions” placed on their artistic or intellectual expression, or complain that African-Americans are stifling their free speech.  Rather, such unwritten rules, social mores and ethical norms about race are typically understood to represent something akin to a moral restitution for a previous generation’s crimes.  While in the U.S., the First Amendment affords legal protection to those who would engage in anti-black hate speech, it is largely understood that responsible citizenship often requires self-restraint – the greatness of a people measured by what they are permitted to do, but decide not to in order to preserve national harmony, what’s known in Judaism as Shalom bayit.  

When Jews talk seriously about antisemitism they are asking those who don’t wish to be so morally implicated to avoid needlessly poisoning the political environment which Jews inhabit.

They are appealing to the better angels of their neighbors’ nature by asking them not to carelessly conjure calumnies such as the “danger” to the world of Jewish power or conspiracies , Jews’ “disloyalty” to the countries where they live, that Jews share collective guilt for the sins of a few, that they’ve come to morally resemble their Nazi persecutors, or that Jews intentionally spill the blood of innocents.

In short, we are asking that decent people avoid employing canards which represented the major themes in Europe’s historic persecution of Jews, and which, tragically, still have currency on the extreme left, the extreme right, and, especially, in much of the Arab and Muslim world today.

The Scarfe/Sunday Times row is about more than the cartoon itself, and it is certainly not about the “right” to offend. It’s about sober but passionate pleas by a minuscule minority that decent people not afflict the historically afflicted, and to recognize their moral obligations to not provide aid and comfort to anti-Jewish racists.

We are asking genuine anti-racists to resist becoming, even if unintentionally, intellectual partners or political fellow travelers with those who trade in the lethal narratives and toxic calumnies associated with the resilient Judeophobic hatred which has caused us immeasurable pain, horrid suffering and indescribable calamities through the ages.

Visit CifWatch.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/the-obligation-to-avoid-anti-semitic-behavior/2013/02/03/

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