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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

Pro-Israel Jewish Democrats Oppose Keith Ellison’s DNC Bid

Friday, November 18th, 2016

By Rafael Medoff

A growing number of pro-Israel activists and Jewish community figures are expressing concern that Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will turn the Democratic Party away from Israel if he is elected party chairman.

The election of Ellison “would bode badly for Jews,” longtime Democratic consultant Dr. Hank Sheinkopf told JNS.org. “His positions on Israel fit the pattern, noted by recent research, of identified liberal anti-Israel bias and the movement of Democrats away from Israel.”

Defending Farrakhan

Ellison’s controversial statements and actions date back to the 1990s, when he served as a local spokesman in Minnesota for Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam movement. Ellison raised eyebrows when he publicly claimed in 1995 that Farrakhan “is not an anti-Semite.”

Since his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007, Ellison has emerged as one of the most vocal congressional supporters of the Palestinian cause. He has organized letters urging more U.S. pressure on Israel, voted against funding Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, and spoken at fundraising events for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a hardline anti-Israel group. While visiting Hebron this past summer, Ellison tweeted a photograph of a placard accusing Israel of “apartheid.”

Rabbi Menachem Genack of Englewood, New Jersey, a prominent Jewish supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said he would be “disappointed” if Ellison is chosen as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) because that would “accelerate the process” of pulling the Democratic Party away from its traditional pro-Israel positions. Genack told JNS.org that he will be speaking to his colleagues in the party to explain his “concerns about Ellison’s views on Israel.”

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat who represents a heavily Jewish district in Brooklyn, strongly criticized the decision by New York’s U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer to endorse Ellison. In an interview with JNS.org, Hikind, asked, “Does Senator Schumer actually believe that there is literally not a single other person in the Democratic Party, anywhere in the country, who would be a better choice than Ellison? Why is Schumer in such a rush to support a candidate who is so unfriendly to Israel?”

Hikind said Ellison “is the most radical candidate imaginable, someone who represents the extreme left wing of the party, which is why he’s being promoted by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and J Street—in other words, Ellison is being backed by all the wrong people if you care about Israel.” The assemblyman noted that Ellison has occasionally claimed to be a friend of Israel, “but if Israel has to depend on support from the Ellisons of the world, it would be in serious trouble.”

Possible defections

Some pro-Israel activists recall, with dismay, Ellison’s efforts to unseat a pro-Israel New Jersey congressman, Steve Rothman, in 2012. Dr. Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, a Jewish political action committee in northern New Jersey, said it was “extremely unusual” for Ellison to target Rothman, “since Rothman was a fellow Democrat, in a district halfway across the country—what could motivate him to go to such great lengths?” Ellison spoke at mosques in New Jersey, urging Arab-Americans to vote against Rothman.

Chouake told JNS.org he fears that if Ellison is elected chair of the DNC, “one of his priorities will be to pull the party away from Israel.” Ellison represents “the fringe of the Democratic Party, not the center, and would it make even harder for the party to have broad appeal.”

The rise of Ellison could drive Jews out of the Democratic Party, according to Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a private wealth manager who worked in the administrations of New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, and New York Governor George Pataki, a Republican. “There are many longtime Jewish Democrats who are on the fence about whether to stay in a party that has been tilting away from Israel—and if Ellison is elected, I believe a good percentage of them will leave the party,” Wiesenfeld told JNS.org.

Wiesenfeld criticized Schumer’s endorsement of Ellison as “a crass political calculation—he sees the party succumbing to the far left, and he wants to go with the flow so he can retain his position.” He said that “Schumer’s phone should be ringing off the hook with calls from members of the Jewish community, asking ‘What happened to your promise to be a ‘shomer’ (guardian) of Israel?”
Ellison’s office did not return a request for comment from JNS.org.

The only other declared candidate so far for the chairmanship of the DNC is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. A date for the election has not yet been set. According to party rules, it must take place prior to March 31, 2017. To win, a candidate needs the votes of a majority of the 447 members of the DNC. About one-fourth of the members are the chairs or vice chairs, of state branches of the Democratic Party.

JNS News Service

Anti-Israel NGO Al-Haq Making Inroads on Capitol Hill

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Al-Haq, a Ramallah based NGO established in 1979 has been making friends on Capitol Hill in recent months, establishing a group of 20 Congress members who are on the record in support of the PA against Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria. The list of 20 lawmakers, which Al-Haq boasts on its website, is not made up of anti-Israel Congress members, which is probably the most worrisome part of this story. They are Congress Members who have mostly bought into the seductive message that Israel has lost its way in trying to, justifiably, deal with the wave of Arab youth rioting and violence in areas under its control, and that the US should come up with ways to help the Israelis rediscover their moral compass.

This group of Al-Haq friendly lawmakers is led by the most anti-Israeli Congress Member, Betty McCollum, US Representative for Minnesota’s 4th congressional district. Back in 2006, she got into a huge feud with AIPAC, when her chief of staff said they had been told by an AIPAC representative that the congresswoman was supporting terrorists because she voted against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 in committee. The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the House, and AIPAC claimed the Congresswoman was lying about that phone call. McCollum took her story everywhere, including an open letter to AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr in The New York Review of Books—not a hotbed of Zionist fervor. She demanded an apology, AIPAC refused. She told Kohr: “Until I receive a formal, written apology from your organization, I must inform you that AIPAC representatives are not welcome in my offices for meetings with my staff.”

The June 20, 2016 Congress Members’ letter to President Barack Obama, written by Rep McCollum, urged the president “to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth to travel to the west Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel to hear directly from Palestinian youth, human rights and legal experts, NGOs, Palestinian and Israeli officials, including police and military leaders. Such a fact finding mission will provide the Obama Administration with vital information necessary to actively promote human rights, but also establish a framework for the next US administration.”

McCollum’s letter also called on the State Dept. “to elevate the human rights of Palestinian children to a priority status in our bilateral relations with Israel and our ongoing engagement with the Palestinian Authority.”

And, McCollum ended with a threat, “ignoring the trauma being inflicted on millions of Palestinian children undermines our American values and will ensure the perpetuation of a conflict and occupation we all want to see ended peacefully.”

To sum up: 1. Appoint another Goldstone commission; 2. Accumulate a one-sided, anti-Israel body of “evidence,” this time with the backing of the White House; 3. Rinse, repeat.

The ambitious letter to Obama, which is touted on the Al-Haq website, attracted the endorsements of US Reps Eddie Bernice Johnson, Andre Carson, John Conyers, Earl Blumenauer, Donald Beyer, Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, Bobby Rush, Marcy Kaptur, Chellie Pingree, Danny Davis, Peter DeFazio, Raul Grijalva, Sam Farr, Luis Gutierrez, Jim McDermott, Yvette Clarke, and Mark Pocan. Although they are all liberal, and mostly from blue states, these US Reps are not necessarily all enemies of Israel. But they were taken in by the Al-Haq propaganda, as it was sung to them by McCollum.

This fall, Al-Haq is revving up its efforts on the Hill. On Monday morning, October 17, on Capitol Hill (Room TBA), Al-Haq is offering a Capitol Hill Briefing on “Israeli Settlements: Their Impact on Palestinians Living Under Military Occupation.” The briefing will feature speakers from Al-Haq, as well as from Youth Against Settlements and from Al-Shabaka. All three NGOs are heavily funded by European countries and charity organizations.

At the October 17 briefing, the “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation” will launch its policy paper on “steps that Congress and the Executive Branch can take to make US opposition to Israeli settlements more effective.”

A light breakfast will be served, probably not kosher.

According to NGO Monitor, Al-Haq has been a leader in the anti-Israel “Lawfare” and BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaigns. Lawfare is the overall title of the strategy aimed at delegitimizing Israel using legal frameworks. It was adopted at the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, as a plan to single out Israel as a “racist” and “apartheid” state; isolate Israel internationally through a BDS campaign; and explicitly advance the political war against Israel. The NGO Forum Declaration called for the “adoption of all measures to ensure [the] enforcement” of international humanitarian law, including “the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to investigate and bring to justice those who may be guilty of war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the crime of Apartheid . . . perpetrated in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

These efforts are being led by Al Haq, as well the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan, and Badil, and aided by international NGOs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights (France), and the Center for Constitutional Rights (New York). Israeli NGOs Adalah, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and Yesh Din also figure prominently in this scheme. All of these organizations are largely supported by European governments and foundations.

JNi.Media

New Study: Alarming Spike in Campus Anti-Semitism in 2016

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Nearly 100 more incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on campus during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015, according to AMCHA Initiative’s mid-year study released today. In addition, calls for Israel’s elimination on campus tripled, and that expression highly correlated with actions that harm Jewish students.

“The growing problem of campus anti-Semitism is no doubt a serious threat facing the Jewish community, but this disturbing and dangerous spike and the bolder, more brazen, methods of those perpetrating this hate are particularly alarming,” cautioned Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative director and co-founder.

The study, which examined anti-Semitic activity from January to June 2016 on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations, found that 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred at 64 schools during that time period, reflecting a 45% increase from the 198 incidents reported in the first six months of 2015.

The study also revealed the following disturbing trends:

Suppression of speech approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, 14 incidents that restricted Jewish students’ civil rights by suppressing their speech, blocking their movement or hindering their assembly were found on 12 campuses. These incidents reflect a significant increase from the first half of 2015, in which eight incidents of suppression occurred on seven campuses.

Expression denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016 and correlated with actions intended to harm Jewish students. The first half of 2016 saw an almost three-fold increase in the number of campus incidents that contained expression opposing the existence of Israel, a recognized form of anti-Semitism by global leaders such as President Obama, Pope Francis and the prime ministers of Canada, Britain and France and the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism. There were 43 such incidents in 2016 compared to 15 during the first half of 2015. In fact, expression opposing the existence of Israel highly correlated with conduct that targeted Jewish students for harm.

Divestment resolutions are fueling anti-Semitism. In 2016, the student governments of 10 schools in the study considered anti-Israel divestment resolutions. Of these 10 schools, eight showed the largest increase in anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Conversely, seven of the nine schools in the 2015 study that considered or voted on divestment resolutions showed a marked decrease in anti-Semitic activity in the first half of 2016 when no divestment resolution was considered. The two schools that did not decrease in anti-Semitic activity hosted discussions and votes on divestment.

Anti-Zionism, particularly Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities, anti-Zionist student groups, and faculty boycotters, remain the strongest predictors of anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Consistent with 2015, this study revealed that anti-Semitism was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP, and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters. In fact, schools with more faculty boycotters and more BDS activity tended to have more incidents of anti-Semitic activity.

Schools to watch in 2016: the schools with the largest increase from 2015 to 2016 are Columbia University, Vassar College, University of Chicago, NYU, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Florida and the University of Washington.

“Instead of just boycotting Israel, the anti-Zionists are now boycotting Jewish students,” stated Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and one of the study’s lead researchers. “Sadly, all too often it is not debate but hate. The lines between political discussions on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students are being blurred. Anti-Zionists are attempting to harm, alienate, and ostracize Jewish students; it is Jewish students’ civil rights that are being trampled. To properly address this rise in anti-Jewish bigotry, universities must adopt a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism and use it to educate the campus community about the distinct line between criticism of Israeli policies and discrimination against Jewish people.”

The report concluded with recommendations for university administrators including (1) adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that identifies all forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, including when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism; (2) allocating resources to educate students and faculty about contemporary forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination; and (3) establishing clear guidelines about free speech protected under the First Amendment and conduct which violates others’ civil rights, including disrupting or shutting down campus events and restricting free speech and right of assembly.

Read full copy of today’s report.

JNi.Media

Meet the 16 Democratic Senators Who Can Scuttle ObamaDeal

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Opponents to the agreement with Iran are lacking approximately nine Democratic senators to override a Presidential veto of its rejection, but the truth that is an opposition victory might have limited meaning.

Congress cannot strike down the agreement, which was made along with five other Western powers. All it can do is block President Obama’s agreement to lift U.S. sanctions.

Doing so would be very significant, both politically for President Obama and the Democratic party as well as for American’s relations with the other P5+1 countries and Iran.

There are seven undecided Democratic senators, according to a tally by the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips.

If all of them turn against President Obama, it will be easier to convince a couple of others whose positions are not yet known.

The seven undecided Democrats, acceding to Phillips, are:

Michael Bennet of Colorado;

Ben Cardin of Maryland;

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania;

Joe Donnelly of Indiana;

Tim Kaine of Virginia;

Bill Nelson of Pennsylvania;

and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Cardin is one of the most important of the undecided. He attends Baltimore’s largest and wealthiest modern Orthodox Beth Tfiloh Congregation, which is highly pro-Israel.

He told NPR this week:

Israel’s security issues are of major concern. We don’t want to see an arms race in the Middle East, so it is a factor. And it’s a factor that I’m sure we will carefully consider.

Earlier in the week, Cardin told Bloomberg:

There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments.

The nine Democratic Senators whose positions are not known are:

Cory Booker of New Jersey;

Maria Cantwell of Washington;

Claire McCaskill of Missouri;

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota;

Barbara Mikulski of Maryland;

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington;

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; and

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

One of the most pivotal of the “unknowns” is McCaskill. She stated this week:

Preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon is paramount to our national security, and if this agreement accomplishes that goal, it will make the world a safer place for America and our allies. I plan to spend the coming weeks taking a hard look at the agreement’s details to ensure that it will result in a verifiable way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Phillip’s tally shows 43 senators “leaning” to vote against ObamaDeal, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and only 26 are in favor or are leaning in favor.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Canadian Jewish Developer Tightens Mall Security After Al Qaeda Call to Jihad

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

A Canadian-based business family is not waiting for a terror attack before tightening security: the Ghermezian Brothers have already taken measures to prevent an attack. The four brothers – Eskandar, Nader, Raphael and Bahman – own a construction and real estate empire in addition to the shopping malls developed by the family patriarch, Jacob Ghermezian, who died in 2000.

The preparations came in response to a call to jihad against “American and Jewish-owned” shopping malls made in a video by the Al Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab over the weekend.

The Jewish Iranian-Canadian family is known for having developed some of the world’s largest shopping malls, and is no stranger to the need for security; its West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada has already put security measures into place to prevent an attack.

Edmonton Deputy Police Chief Brian Simpson told CTV News, “West Edmonton mall is very safe; I also feel that this community is very safe,” Jewish Business News reported.

In Bloomington, Minnesota, the family’s Mall of America stands out as the largest shopping mall in the United States – which made it one of the top targets for al-Shabaab. The terror group even provided the coordinates for its “Muslim brethren” in the West to more easily be able to find the shopping mall, in order to be able to attack it.

Hana Levi Julian

Minnesota Univ. Student Official Compares Group Backing Israel with KKK

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

A University of Minnesota’s graduate student representative to the Board of Regents has compared Students Supporting Israel (SSI) to the Ku Klux Klan, the Campus Reform website reported.

Student representative Damien Carriere labeled SSI a “hate group” in emails sent to the university’s student government executive board in a campaign to remove the founder of the pro-Israel group from the Student Services Committee.

Campus Reform reported that the committee “is responsible for the distribution of millions of dollars in funds to various student groups.”

“He is a member of a hate group (SSI) and I think he comes in with a fishy agenda,” Carriere wrote in a series of e-mails Campus Reform obtained. “[Ilan Sinelnikov’] is a member of a hate group (SSI) and I think he comes in with a fishy agenda.”

After members of the executive board of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) began questioning his classification of SSI as a hate group, Campus Reform stated that Carriere wrote that the Student Services Committee “would fund a KKK group if they justify their request well. So let us consider that they do pass the student group test.”

The GAPSA later removed Sinelnikov because they were not convinced he had “demonstrated the ability to remain impartial.”

“I was the only candidate singled out for questioning and such bias scrutiny by the certain members of the Assembly,” Sinelnikov told Campus Reform.

“It is unfortunate that they were unable to put aside their bigotry towards my national origin when performing their duties as student representatives,” he added. “GAPSA proved its bias and ignorance against me because of my political beliefs and my ethnic background. Being singled out based for those reasons after a long campaign against Students Supporting Israel reminds me why Students Supporting Israel was founded–to fight anti-Semitism and bias on college campuses”

The university’s undergraduate student body president told Campus Reform, whose self-stated mission is to be “a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system” and expose “bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.” that she will take action in defense of Sinelnikov, who she believes has been discriminated against.

Carriere’s reasoning for comparing SSI with KKK is that members of the group who support Israel belong “to a certain ideology which is present among some citizens of that state that has been refusing rights to minorities outside of the recognized borders of that country.”

In another e-mail, Carrier said Christian Crusaders for Christ also is a hate group because it “is named after a bloody and inherently racist episode in European history.”

The term crusade is considered by many as offensive because it refers to the will of chasing the Muslims from their land by mean [sic] of war,” Carriere wrote.

Now that it is Thanksgiving, perhaps Carriere will demand that the United States return the Land of the Free to the Indians and move to a reserve.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Minnesota Nazi Uniform Party Was Just an ‘Historical Exercise’

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The owner of a Minneapolis, Minnesota restaurant has defended a private party in which men dressed up in SS uniforms and said it was only an exercise for actors who play historical roles and was not meant to praise Hitler.

No one outside of the restaurant knew about the party, or the “event” as the actors called it, until the local City Pages website posted on line a picture of the men in Nazi uniforms in the restaurant, called Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit.

“By no means do we glorify the edicts of the Third Reich,” said Scott Steben, who characterized himself as a history buff who has landed movie parts as a German soldier. “I understand the sensitivity of the subject matter and everything but it did occur and it is history,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Steben doesn’t see any difference between actors dressing up as Star Trek characters and as Nazis. It’s all in a day’s work, but where have we heard that before?

The party was held on – are you ready for this – Martin Luther King Day, in late January. Steben said that the event was actually the group’s annual Christmas party, which was booked on a Monday because it is the only day the restaurant is closed.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear the reaction of the actors if they had dressed up as KKK members, not for any reasons of racism, God forbid, but just to act out a bit of American history.

The party was photographed by one of the restaurant’s workers who showed them to his friends. The restaurant owner promptly fired the worker, and it remains to be seen if that is reasonable grounds for dismissal.

The photos showed four Nazi banners hanging in one dining room, and another picture reveals a staff member receiving a black T-shirt with a swastika – all for the sake of history, of course.

Local Jews were understandably upset. “Glorification and/or celebration of Nazi Germany and its military would appear to be incongruous with the nature of a family restaurant and its surrounding neighborhood,” wrote Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas Executive Director Steve Hunegs in a statement.

Two Jewish organizations said they are offering to help the restaurant find a way to honor Minnesota’s World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors by not associating with German military re-enactors.

The restaurant owner Mario Pierzchalsk, a native of Poland, said he has hosted the party for six years. Following the bad publicity, he will not allow the group to stage a similar party next year but said the people who attended “are very peaceful” and are “just actors.”

He was angry at the negative reaction. “We live in a free country…but from the comments I see, a lot of people they don’t see what freedom is. If I break the law, punish me. But we did this for so many years and everything was fine,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

However, he did apologize on Wednesday.” On behalf of everyone who participated in a World War II reenactment dinner last January, I apologize,” read a statement issued by Steben and published in the Star Tribune. “We understand that some of the items we displayed at the dinner have made people feel uncomfortable. That was not our intent.”

Below is the local CBS outlet’s report.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/minnesota-nazi-uniform-party-was-just-an-historical-exercise/2014/03/20/

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