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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Remembering Jackie Robinson’s Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Moviegoers heading to see the new film “42” will see the story of how Jackie Robinson displayed legendary courage, class and talent in the face of immense pressure and racial hatred as he broke down baseball’s color barrier.

Less well known is Robinson’s commitment to fighting all bigotry, including prejudice emanating from his own community.

It was 1962, a decade and a half after Robinson first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers and just a few years after he retired. Day after day, an angry crowd marched outside Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater protesting against its Jewish owner, Frank Schiffman, and his plan to open a low-cost restaurant with prices that potentially would threaten the business of a more expensive black-owned eatery.

The demonstrators carried anti-Semitic posters and hurled racial epithets, reportedly denouncing Schiffman as a Shylock who wanted to extract a pound of flesh from the black community.

Schiffman turned to several black leaders for help, but despite the increasingly hostile acts of anti-Semitism that were taking place, they all remained silent – except for Robinson.

“I was ashamed to see community leaders who were afraid to speak out when blacks were guilty of anti-Semitism,” Robinson wrote in his 1972 autobiography, I Never Had It Made. “How could we stand against anti-black prejudice if we were willing to practice or condone a similar intolerance?”

Never one to back down from a cause he believed in, Robinson used his syndicated newspaper column to condemn the protesters’ blatant use of anti-Semitism and compared their actions to events that had occurred in Nazi Germany, drawing the ire of many black nationalists in the process.

The nationalists, who had adopted a separatist agenda, retaliated by protesting in front of a nearby Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee shop – Robinson had worked for the chain after his 1957 retirement from baseball– and outside a dinner honoring Robinson’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In turn, several mainstream black leaders, including Roy Wilkins, the longtime leader of the NAACP, quickly came to the defense of Robinson and Schiffman.

“In their fight for equal opportunity, Negroes cannot use the slimy tools of anti-Semitism or indulge in racism, the very tactics against which we cry out,” Wilkins wrote in a telegram to Robinson. “We join you in your straight statement that this is a matter of principle from which there can be no retreat.”

Other leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Philadelphia Tribune publisher Dr. E. Washington Rhodes, also offered their support, according to Robinson.

Major League Baseball’s first black player also managed to pry a condemnation of anti-Semitism from Lewis Micheaux, the owner of Harlem’s National Memorial African Book Store, though Micheaux had sympathized with the marchers and denounced Robinson’s initial criticisms.

Soon after, the protests ceased.

Some Jewish communal officials have noted that Robinson’s strong stance during the 1962 Apollo incident stood in stark contrast to the silence from black leaders during the 1995 protests outside Freddy’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street.

For months, large crowds gathered in front of the Harlem store to protest the efforts of its Jewish owner, Fred Harari, to expand into an adjacent storefront that was occupied by a black-owned business.

The condemnations came only after one protester, Roland Smith Jr., shot and killed seven store employees before burning down the building and taking his own life.

Robinson was always quick to criticize anti-Semitism in the black community, according to Stephen Norwood, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who co-wrote a scholarly article on Robinson’s relationship with Jews.

In a 1997 interview timed to the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s integration of baseball, Norwood pointed out that Robinson was the first to condemn and call for the removal of a Congress of Racial Equality official in 1966 after the official shouted at a group of Jews, “Hitler made a mistake when he didn’t kill enough of you.”

While raising funds for the NAACP and bail money for imprisoned civil-rights marchers, Norwood said, Robinson witnessed the valuable contributions that Jews were making to the black community’s struggle. When Robinson took part in the legendary march on Washington and stood by King in Birmingham, Ala., he saw that some Jews also were placing their bodies on the line for civil-rights causes.

Israeli Arabs Launch ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

What began as an anti-Israel campaign throughout the world, is coming to Israel, with a conference on “Israeli Apartheid” to be held Wednesday in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, Maariv reports.

The conference, held as part of the “Apartheid Week,” will feature Dr. Yousef Jabareen, senior lecturer at Haifa University, who will speak about “racism within the Green Line,” and Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor from a Gazan university, who will speak over Skype about “the similarity between Palestine and South Africa before the removal of Apartheid laws.”

Event organizers are young Arab activists who are members of the local branch of the BDS movement, which leads the international boycott campaign against Israel.

Raja Zaatara, one of the organizers and a member of Hadash party politburo, said: “The green line has a policy of apartheid and the territories have a regime of apartheid. In Israel there are dozens of laws explicitly speak about rights that are exclusive to the Jews, for example, the Law of Return, and various real estate laws.

“If anyone in the U.S. or in Europe chooses to boycott Haifa University because it discriminates against Arabs, or Tel Aviv University because it runs more than 50 projects for the Army, I can quite understand them,” said Za’atra. “If I was a Belgian or French citizen, I would be boycotting Israel in order to influence the situation. The boycott is a legitimate tool of civilian struggle.”

Abir Cobti, a female political activist and one of the organizers of the conference, says that the purpose of the event is to help isolate Israel in the international arena. “We will continue to engage in promoting economic boycott against Israel as a legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people.”

The “Im Tirtzu” movement, dedicated to reviving Zionist values in Israel, criticized the participation of Dr. Jabareen in the Nazareth event.

“This is yet another play of the Theater of the Absurd, which continues to break new records. Arab citizens of Israel—Israelis such as Dr. Yousef Jabareen, who lectures in Israeli academic institutions and even heads an academic institute in Israel, taking part in a conference accusing the state of Israel of apartheid,” said Im Tirtzu Chairman, Ronen Shoval. “This conference is part of hallucinatory Antisemitic propaganda campaign against Israel and against Israeli democracy. “

Some of My Best Friends Are…

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

I am not one to follow beauty pageants. Least of all those held in Israel. I am not going to get into the Halachic issues here – which do exist. As it pertains to this post it is a side issue. I am, however, going to get into another troubling issue – that of racism.

An article in the Forward cites an Israeli journalist that actually asks the question about whether Yityish Aynaw deserved to win the title Miss Israel. I don’t think that question has ever been asked before about any other winner of that title. No matter what she looked like. Why did he ask it here? Can anyone guess? Well, just in case you hadn’t noticed, the color of her skin is black. Here is what he said:

“I think it is really great that an Ethiopian-born woman won our national beauty pageant, I really do. If she were also beautiful it would have been even better.” Right! He thinks it’s great! And some of his best friends are…

What a disgusting comment! It is truly sickening when skin color becomes an issue in any circumstance. To say that someone who won a contest is not really all that beautiful but was chosen for political reasons in only this case is an insult to both the winner and to an entire race of people.

It is also an insult to me and to anyone with any sense of human dignity. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That this journalist doesn’t think she is beautiful may in fact be true. Maybe he doesn’t. I will even grant that beauty pageants are political and winners are chosen for reasons other than physical beauty.

But this has always been true. And yet I don’t ever recall anyone saying that a beauty contest winner in Israel was not beautiful enough to have won. To do so now seems to show a certain degree of racism that is deeply buried in the unconscious mind of that journalist. He probably isn’t even aware of his own racial bias. Or… maybe he is and is disguising it by putting it in political terms.

Israel has recently been accused of racist tactics with respect to its Ethiopian immigrants. I don’t know how true that is. Although there is racism among some of its citizens as was pointed out last month by an op-ed in Ynet. But when journalist post messages like this on his Facebook page I think it exposes a certain degree of it. Even if it is only in the unconscious mind.

The unconscious mind dictates a lot of how humankind behaves. Decisions are often made that are racially biased and yet not realized as such by the decision makers.

I do not mean to impugn Israel. It is not a racist state. Far from it – despite accusations to the contrary. No one has done more for the plight of Ethiopian Jewry than the State of Israel. They have attempted mightily to mainstream these new immigrants and have achieved a measure of success in doing so. The fact that Miss Israel was an officer in the IDF at age 21 demonstrates that.

But the fact that there still exists this kind of subliminal thinking seems to be true as well. When journalists question why a black woman won a beauty contest – even if it is disguised as referring only to this particular black woman – it impacts on public opinion. I think that is sad. That he said it only on his Facebook page – perhaps thinking only his “Friends” would see it – makes it even sadder. That would mean he knew his comment wasn’t all that Kosher.

I’m sure that there are many (hopefully most) Israelis that do not have a prejudice bone in their bodies. But obviously there are some who do have a bone or two in their bodies that is prejudiced

Those who do, like this journalist – need to work on their attitudes and root out any and all prejudice whether conscious or not. It is the right thing to do.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Bibi Blasts Erdogan’s ‘Dark and Mendacious’ Anti-Zionist Comment

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply on Thursday condemned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement about Zionism and its comparison to fascism, calling it ”dark and mendacious.”

He said it was thought that Erdogan’s type of remark “had passed from the world.”

Erdogan spoke at the UN Alliance for Civilizations forum in Vienna on Wednesday and declared, “We witness on a frequent basis, the shutting out and despisal [sic] of the other, whereas understanding the beliefs, culture and feelings of the other is what should be done. “It has become inevitable for Islamophobia to be seen as a crime against humanity, just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism”

Erdogan: Zionism ‘Crime against Humanity’ (Video)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose none other than the UN Alliance of Civilizations” on Wednesday to declare that Israel and Islamophobia both are a “crime against humanity.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sat non-responsively behind Erdogan as he spoke in Vienna.

In a chilling reminder of the United Nations’ “Zionism is Racism” Resolution passed by the United Nations in 1975 and revoked 16 years later, Erdogan stated, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.”

His speech was the keynote address at the 5th Global forum sponsored by the UN.

“We witness on a frequent basis, the shutting out and despisal [sic] of the other, whereas understanding the beliefs, culture and feelings of the other is what should be done. It has become inevitable for Islamophobia to be seen as a crime against humanity, just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism,” he declared.

“None of the divine religions approves terror; and above all, Islam, which is a derivation of ‘silm,’ means peace. It is impossible for a religion of peace to encourage or approve of terrorism; we will never accept that. The Alliance of Civilizations is one of the most meaningful initiatives to remove prejudices and close the gap between sides.”

After his declaration that “understanding the beliefs, culture and feelings of the other” applies only to Islam and excludes Zionism, he mouthed off at the Western powers with a not-so-subtle swipe at the United States.

“We have to form an alliance between the permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is very difficult to reach a compromise at the Security Council. Whenever a member says no, the deal is done. This is something that needs to be addressed. Wasn’t the UN founded to maintain world peace? If so, the UN is in dire need of reforms.”

The United States, Britain, France, China and Russia are the five permanent members, and the United States has used its veto power, and the threat to veto, to block most anti-Israel resolutions.

His comments in Vienna came two days before he is to welcome U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Turkey on Friday.

Without Israel, without Iran, without Syria, maybe he wants to ditch the United States, also, and declare Turkey a diplomatic island.

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Hikind Defends His Blackface Hoop Player Purim Shtick

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Brooklyn New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind had “a lot of fun” by dressing up as a black basketball player on Purim, but now that the party is over, so is the fun.

He invited a professional makeup artist to his home on Purim to help him with his costume, complete with an afro wig, sunglasses, an orange jersey and – of course – brown face paint.

“I was just, I think, I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players. Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player,” Mr. Hikind explained to the Politicker website. “It was just a lot of fun.… The fun for me is when people come in and don’t recognize me.”

Dozens of people streamed in and out of his house to enjoy the Purim party, where his wife dressed up as a devil, which is probably what many people, black and white, are calling him today.

Jews dress up as just about anyone on Purim, from Arabs, to Haredi Jews, political figures, clowns, priests – everything. But recreating a stereotype of blacks is the farthest point away from being politically correct, especially for a Jewish politician,

Hikind sees no problem with his costume.

“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended,” he told Politicker. “You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable.

“Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking.”

Hikind told a WCBS 880 reporter that it “never crossed my mind for a second” that the costume might be offensive, and added, “If I was black, on Purim I would have made my face look like I was white.”

The New York Times reported Monday that Assembly Democrat, Deborah J. Glick of Manhattan, took to Twitter to state her objections to the costume and wrote, “Assembly member Dov Hikind in blackface was beyond offensive. A Purim party shouldn’t be cover for insensitivity.” City Councilman Mark Weprin posted on Twitter a simple question: “What was Dov thinking?”

Detroit Jewish Leader on Pro-Nazi and Convicted Killer’s Hit List

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The FBI warned the head of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit that his name was on the hit list of a convicted killer and neo-Nazi sympathizer.

Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Detroit federation, was told last week that his name was on a list in a notebook kept by a Toledo man who was indicted last month on federal weapons charges.

The notebook was found Dec. 21 in the raid on the home of Richard Schmidt, 47, who served jail time for voluntary manslaughter in the 1990 killing of a Toledo man. The list made reference to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and listed its leaders, the Toledo Blade reported.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, the head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, and his group also were on the list.

Federal agents who raided Schmidt’s house said they seized a video of a 2005 national meeting of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and a national list of Jewish-owned businesses, according to reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/detroit-jewish-leader-on-pro-nazi-and-convicted-killers-hit-list/2013/02/25/

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