Labour’s Luciana Berger receives death threats telling her to ‘watch her back’

The Guardian reports: Death threats have been made to Labour’s Luciana Berger, with one message allegedly telling her she is going to “get it like Jo Cox did”.

She has reportedly received a number of emails that are understood to have included an image of a kitchen knife, as well as warnings telling her: “You better watch your back Jewish scum.”

The MP for Liverpool Wavertree is believed to have contacted police after receiving the messages on Friday. In a statement Berger, who stood down as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet minister for mental health, extended her gratitude to the police for their “swift action” in dealing with the abuse. “Behaviour like this seeks to threaten our democracy. Intimidation of any kind should never be tolerated,” she said. [Continue reading…]


Reporter calls out Donald Trump’s son-in-law over anti-Semitism

The New York Times reports: On Tuesday morning, Dana Schwartz, a culture reporter for The New York Observer, sent a pitch to the paper’s editor in chief.

After posting a message on Twitter criticizing Donald J. Trump for using an image of Hillary Clinton with a shape resembling the Star of David and a pile of cash, Ms. Schwartz spent the Fourth of July weekend getting trolled by anti-Semitic Trump supporters.

Now she wanted to write about the experience.

“I feel an obligation to use whatever platform is available to me to bring that hatred out of the shadows, acknowledging it and discussing it,” Ms. Schwartz wrote to the editor, Ken Kurson.

Mr. Kurson responded swiftly, she said, with a single word: “Go.”

He didn’t see the piece until it was published online. It may not have been what Mr. Kurson was expecting.

It did not simply criticize Mr. Trump’s anti-Semitic supporters. It called out Mr. Trump’s Orthodox Jewish son-in-law and de facto campaign manager, Jared Kushner — the owner of The Observer. [Continue reading…]

Kushner released a statement in response to Schwartz’s letter, saying:

My father-in-law is an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife. I know that Donald does not at all subscribe to any racist or anti-semitic thinking. I have personally seen him embrace people of all racial and religious backgrounds. The suggestion that he may be intolerant is not reflective of the Donald Trump I know.

Unable to face such a courageous expression of dissent from an employee, Kushner (or his loyal underlings) removed Schwartz’s letter from the Observer — but it can still be read here.


Quiet fixer in Donald Trump’s campaign: His son-in-law, Jared Kushner

The New York Times reports: International diplomacy is a world of careful rituals, hierarchy and credentials. But when the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, wanted to communicate with Donald J. Trump, he ended up on two occasions in the Manhattan office of a young man with no government experience, no political background and no official title in the Trump campaign: Jared Kushner.

Mr. Kushner held court at length with Mr. Dermer, doing his best to engage in the same sort of high-level conversation that the ambassador conducted with career diplomats and policy experts from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

A 35-year-old real estate developer, investor and newspaper publisher, Mr. Kushner derives his authority in the campaign not from a traditional résumé but from a marital vow. He is Mr. Trump’s son-in-law.

Yet in a gradual but unmistakable fashion, Mr. Kushner has become involved in virtually every facet of the Trump presidential operation, so much so that many inside and out of it increasingly see him as a de facto campaign manager. Mr. Kushner, who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, helped recruit a sorely needed director of communications, oversaw the creation of an online fund-raising system and has had a hand in drafting Mr. Trump’s few policy speeches. And now that Mr. Trump has secured the Republican nomination, Mr. Kushner is counseling his father-in-law on the selection of a running mate.

It is a new and unlikely role for Mr. Kushner, a conspicuously polite Harvard graduate whose prominent New Jersey family bankrolled Democrats for decades and whose father’s reputation was destroyed, in a highly public and humiliating manner, by his involvement in electoral politics.

Now, in a Shakespearean turn, Mr. Kushner is working side by side with the former federal prosecutor who put his father, Charles Kushner, in prison just over 10 years ago: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whom Mr. Trump named as a top adviser. Mr. Kushner originally voiced objections to Mr. Trump about the appointment, but Mr. Kushner and Mr. Christie have since become wary allies in seeking to impose greater discipline on Mr. Trump’s unconventional campaign.

Much about the Trump candidacy seems at odds with Mr. Kushner’s personality and biography: An Orthodox Jew and grandson of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Kushner is now at the center of a campaign that has been embraced by white nationalists and anti-Semites. [Continue reading…]


Donald Trump: The pied piper of American bigotry takes a shot at ‘Jewish money’


Apologists for the Trump campaign, such as former campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, are trying deflect criticism of the campaign’s use of blatantly anti-Semitic imagery by claiming that the star used in the now infamous “history made” tweet is the same as the star used by American law enforcement.

Let’s see if I understand. When Trump uses imagery that’s meant to reinforce his message that Hillary Clinton is deeply corrupt, he wants to imply she’s as corrupt as what he views as that other widely recognized symbol of corruption… the American sheriff?

That’s strange. I thought Trump was a big fan of the police.

Lewandowski says the reaction to the tweet is ‘political correctness run amok.’

If so, why did the Trump campaign kowtow to their critics by altering the tweet to remove an innocent “sheriff’s star”?

And how come the first place this image is known to have been used before it was co-opted by Trump was a neo-Nazi message board?

What’s really going on inside the campaign?

Does Trump actually feel like he needs to strengthen and expand the coalition of support he already has among neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites and every other stripe of bigotry woven into the tapestry of American politics?

Although I think it’s dangerous to underestimate how large a place bigotry holds in American culture, I don’t actually believe that a realistic presidential campaign — even one led by a quintessentially ugly racist American — can conceivably win by appealing to this diseased fragment of the American psyche.

And given that Twitter has had such an important role in Trump’s media strategy, it’s highly implausible that the latest “unforced error” was really that.

Firstly, it seems much more likely that, in part, this is the latest example of what Trump has been doing all along: baiting the media in order to get free publicity.

A campaign that’s already financially stretched is likely to become increasingly desperate in its use of stunts designed to grab headlines.

But wait a minute, some people may be thinking: Why would Trump risk alienating some extremely wealthy Jewish donors — especially Sheldon Adelson — just for a couple of days free but politically costly media attention?

Back in May, Adelson was reported to be “poised” to donate $100 million or more to the Trump campaign at a time that Trump estimated he might need to raise $1 billion.

The money never came through.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Many [inside the Trump campaign] were hoping casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who spent nearly $100 million in the 2012 presidential race, would save the day by starting his own pro-Trump super PAC to provide a trusted safe haven for donors.

But after Trump’s polling numbers tanked with his race-based criticism of a federal judge and response to the Orlando shooting, Adelson has put his plans on hold. The Las Vegas billionaire is “not actually starting a PAC despite what has been reported,” his spokesman said.

So, perhaps Trump’s anti-Semitic tweet might be better understood not as dog whistle to bigots whose loyalty he’s already won, but instead as a counterpunch aimed at Jewish donors like Adelson who now find it impossible to deny Trump’s inherent toxicity.

Trump’s biggest lie was that he would never need anyone else’s money, so nothing now eats his heart out more with bitterness and envy than the sight of his competitor sitting on piles of cash while he has close to none.

As much as Trump may have appeared to possess an extraordinary capacity to avoid being penalized for his irrepressible racism, the reality seems to be that it is driving his campaign to bankruptcy.


Trump’s big tent for bigotry

Jonathan Weisman writes: A Jewish 17-year-old, inflamed by the Black Lives Matter movement and the cause of L.G.B.T. rights, told me recently there is no anti-Semitism, certainly nothing compared with the prejudices that afflict other minorities. I surprised myself when I recoiled from her words and argued passionately that Jews must never think anti-Semitism has been eradicated. I sounded like my mother.

Just weeks later, I found myself staring down a social-media timeline filled with the raw hate and anti-Semitic tropes that for centuries fueled expulsion, persecution, pogroms and finally genocide.

“I found the Menorah you were looking for,” one correspondent offered with a Trump-triumphant backdrop on his Twitter profile; it was a candelabrum made of the number six million. Old Grand Dad cheerfully offered up a patriotic image of Donald Trump in colonial garb holding up the Liberty Bell and fighting “against the foreign hordes,” with caricatures of the Jew, the American Indian, the Mexican, the Chinese and the Irish cowering at his feet.

I am not the first Jewish journalist to experience the onslaught. Julia Ioffe was served up on social media in concentration camp garb and worse after Trump supporters took umbrage with her profile of Melania Trump in GQ magazine. The would-be first lady later told an interviewer that Ms. Ioffe had provoked it. The anti-Semitic hate hurled at the conservative commentator Bethany Mandel prompted her to buy a gun.

Beyond journalism, stories of Muslims assaulted by Trump supporters are piling up. Hispanic immigrants are lining up for citizenship, eager to vote. Groups that have been maligned over centuries at different times in different regions now share a common tormentor, the alt-right, a militant agglomeration of white nationalists, racists, anti-Semites and America Firsters that have been waging war on the Republican establishment for some time. Their goals: Close the borders, deport illegal immigrants, pull out of international entanglements and pull up the drawbridge. [Continue reading…]

The middle way here requires neither minimizing anti-Semitism nor granting it special status among the array of bigotries that are being fomented by Trump.

The struggle now is between the politics of inclusion and those of exclusion.

There’s never been a time of greater need for a show of solidarity between Jews, Muslims, blacks, immigrants and all Americans who recognize that shared human values matter more than the identities we use to set ourselves apart.


Zionism threatens to bring anti-Semitism full-circle

Jonathan Ofir writes: Zionism is very much a mirror image of anti-Semitism. It was founded and based on an assumption that assimilation is bound to fail, and that the Jews must resort to other measures in order to protect their existence – as persons, but perhaps even more significantly – as a supposed nation. David Ben-Gurion’s words to the Mapai committee in 1938 reveal how the national aspect could supersede the humanitarian concern to actual people: ”If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.” In that same year he spoke to the Jewish Agency in regards to the Évian conference which sought to facilitate the plight of Jewish refugees, saying, “[I do] not know if the conference will open the gates of other countries. . . . But I am afraid [ it ] might cause tremendous harm to Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. . . . and the more we emphasize the terrible distress of the Jewish masses in Germany, Poland and Rumania, the more damage we shall cause” — to Zionism and Eretz Israel by promoting emigration to western countries. [Both quotes at this link.]

That is to say, that the priority of nationalism (as opposed to personal security) was extremely high in Zionism from the outset. Zionism sought to forge a sense of ‘nationhood’ for a people that were of a vast spectrum of ethnicity, language, even religion (from ultra-orthodox to atheist) and claim that they were one. The British (and notably Jewish) Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu, in his critique of Her Majesty’s Government’s intentions to endorse a ‘Jewish national home” in Palestine in 1917, said: “I assert that there is not a Jewish nation. The members of my family, for instance, who have been in this country for generations, have no sort or kind of community of view or of desire with any Jewish family in any other country beyond the fact that they profess to a greater or less degree the same religion. It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries – through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race”. [Continue reading…]


Across Europe, anti-Jewish violence is at its lowest level in a decade

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The record influx of Muslim refugees last year coincided with a sharp decline in the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents in major European countries, many of which bore the brunt of the refugee crisis.

The wave of so-called new anti-Semitism of recent years largely stemmed from anti-Israeli rather than racist beliefs, and had often been linked to the persistence of such attitudes among the growing Muslim population. Yet data from the 2015 report on global anti-Semitism, published on Wednesday by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, clearly show that as the refugees started coming in by the tens of thousands per day starting about a year ago, Europe became a safer place to be Jewish.

According to data collected by the Israeli demographer Sergio DellaPergola, France, the U.K. and Germany are the European countries with the biggest core Jewish population, defined as people who describe themselves as Jews. In France, the number of major violent anti-Semitic attacks dropped to 72 last year from 164 in 2014. The U.K. saw a similarly steep decrease, to 62 from 141. In Germany, there were 37 attacks, down from 76. Throughout Europe, anti-Jewish violence is at the lowest level in a decade. [Continue reading…]


Why a British fight over Israel and anti-Semitism matters to the rest of us

Robert Mackey writes: At first glance, the heated argument two members of the British Labour Party conducted in front of reporters’ iPhones on Thursday, sparked by accusations that one of their colleagues posted anti-Semitic comments on Facebook, seems like a story of interest mainly to political junkies in London.

When the debate is unpacked, however, it becomes clear that what’s at stake is something much broader: whether critics of Israel, who question its government’s policies or its right to exist as a Jewish state, are engaged in a form of coded anti-Semitism. That matters because attempts to disqualify all critics of Israel as racists are widespread across the globe.

In the United States, for instance, supporters of a movement to boycott Israel until it grants Palestinians full civil rights have recently been condemned as anti-Semites by Hillary Clinton; last month, the University of California adopted a policy on discrimination that implies anti-Semitism is behind opposition to Zionism, the political ideology asserting that the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in historic Palestine.

But how did this issue come to dominate the political debate in Britain, a week before important local elections? [Continue reading…]


The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence

Jamie Stern-Weiner writes: Norman Finkelstein is no stranger to controversy. The American Jewish scholar is one of the world’s leading experts on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the political legacy of the Nazi holocaust. Apart from his parents, every member of Finkelstein’s family, on both sides, was exterminated in the Nazi holocaust. His 2000 book The Holocaust Industry, which was serialised in the Guardian, became an international best-seller and touched off a firestorm of debate. But Finkelstein’s most recent political intervention came about by accident.

Last month, Naz Shah MP became one of the most high-profile cases to date in the ‘antisemitism’ scandal still shaking the Labour leadership. Shah was suspended from the Labour party for, among other things, reposting an image on Facebook that was alleged to be antisemitic. The image depicted a map of the United States with Israel superimposed, and suggested resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict by relocating Israel into the United States. It has been reported that Shah got the image from Finkelstein’s website. I spoke with Finkelstein about why he posted the image, and what he thinks of allegations that the Labour party has a ‘Jewish problem’.

Did you create the controversial image that Naz Shah reposted?

I’m not adept enough with computers to compose any image. But I did post the map on my website in 2014. An email correspondent must have sent it. It was, and still is, funny. Were it not for the current political context, nobody would have noticed Shah’s reposting of it either. Otherwise, you’d have to be humourless. These sorts of jokes are a commonplace in the U.S. So, we have this joke: Why doesn’t Israel become the 51st state? Answer: Because then, it would only have two senators. As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour. It’s inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map.

Shah’s posting of that image has been presented as an endorsement by her of a ‘chilling “transportation” policy’, while John Mann MP has compared her to Eichmann.

Frankly, I find that obscene. It’s doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them. I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp. They were herded into railroad cars. My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child. And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother. She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going. That’s what it meant to be deported. To compare that to someone posting a light-hearted, innocuous cartoon making a little joke about how Israel is in thrall to the U.S., or vice versa…it’s sick. What are they doing? Don’t they have any respect for the dead? All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position. Have they no shame? [Continue reading…]


‘Generalizations about anti-Semitism in Europe are dangerous’

On November 30, 2011, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, spoke to a conference of lawyers organized by the European Jewish Union. His remarks have some renewed relevance now as Britain’s Labour Party is suffering multiple accusations that it harbors antisemites.

Gutman said:

There is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating. Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated. We can never take our eye off it or just dismiss it as fringe elements or the work of crazy people, because we have seen in the past how it can foment and grow. And it is that hatred that lawyers like you can work vigilantly to expose, combat and punish, maybe in conjunction with existing human rights groups.

I have not personally seen much of that hatred in Europe, though it rears its ugly head from time to time. I do not have any basis to think it is growing in any sense. But of course, we can never take our eye off of it, and you particularly as lawyers can help with that process.

So in some sense, that is the easy part of the analysis.

Let’s turn to the harder and more complex part.

What I do see as growing, as gaining much more attention in the newspapers and among politicians and communities, is a different phenomena. It is the phenomena that led Jacques Brotchi to quit his position on the university committee a couple of months ago and that led to the massive attention last week when the Jewish female student was beaten up. It is the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews. It is a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.

It too is a serious problem. It too must be discussed and solutions explored. No Jewish student – and no Muslim student or student of any heritage or religion – should ever feel intimidated on a University campus for their heritage or religion leading to academic leaders quitting in protest. No high school or grammar school Jewish student – and no Muslim high school or grammar school student or student of any heritage or religion – should be beaten up over their heritage or religion.

But this second problem is in my opinion different in many respects than the classic bigotry – hatred against those who are different and against minorities generally — the type of anti-Semitism that I discussed above. It is more complex and requiring much more thought and analysis. This second form of what is labeled “growing anti-Semitism” produces strange phenomena and results.

Thus for example, I have been received well by Belgians everywhere in this country. I always get polite applause and sometimes more.

But the longest and loudest ovation I have ever received in Belgium came from the high school with one of the largest percentages of students of Arab heritage. It was in Molenbeek. It consisted of an audience dominated by girls with head scarves and boys named Mohammed, standing and cheering boisterously for a Jewish American, who belongs to two schuls and whose father was a Holocaust survivor. Let me just share a minute or two with you of a video clip from that visit.

These kids were not anti-Semitic as I have ever thought of the term. And I get a similar reaction as I engage with imans, at Iftars, and with Muslims communities throughout Belgium.

And yet, I know and I hear at the same time that the cheering occurs for this Jew, that within that same school and audience at Molenbeek, among those at the same Iftars, and throughout the Muslim communities that I visit, and indeed throughout Europe, there is significant anger and resentment and, yes, perhaps sometimes hatred and indeed sometimes and all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.

This is a complex problem indeed. It requires its own analysis and solutions. And the analysis I submit is not served simply by lumping the problem with past instances of anti-Jewish beliefs and actions or those that exist today among minority haters under a uniform banner of “anti-Semitism.”


Labour antisemitism row: There was nothing Zionist about Hitler’s plans for the Jews

By Rainer Schulze, University of Essex

When the former London mayor Ken Livingstone said in an interview that Hitler was “supporting Zionism” before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”, he was quickly suspended from the Labour Party, which was already in the throes of a painful row over anti-semitism. But while Livingstone’s tone-deaf comments came at a very politically sensitive moment, the historical error at their heart is all too familiar.

Claims that Hitler was a Zionist, or supported Zionism, before his anti-Jewish policies turned into murder and extermination flare up at regular intervals. They usually cite the controversial Haavara Agreement (Transfer Agreement) of August 1933 as the most potent evidence of a wilful cooperation between Hitler and the Zionist movement. When viewed in a certain way, this deal does superficially seem to show that Hitler’s government endorsed Zionism – but just because it was a mechanism to help German Jews relocate to Palestine it does not imply it was “Zionist”.

The Haavara Agreement was the only formal contract signed between Nazi Germany and a Zionist organisation. The signatories were the Reich Ministry of Economics, the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland (Zionist Federation of Germany) and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (then under the directive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine).

Under the agreement Jewish emigrants had to hand over their possessions before they left Germany, and the proceeds were used by a company specifically set up for this purpose in Tel Aviv to purchase German goods for sale in Palestine. The proceeds of these sales were then paid in Palestinian currency to the emigrants in Palestine.

The agreement was immediately criticised from all sides. The Zionist Federation was accused of collaboration with the Nazis, and the Nazi authorities were criticised by fellow Nazis for helping Jews when their official policy was to “solve the Jewish question”. Still, at this point in time, both sides no doubt saw potential benefits for themselves in such an agreement.

For the Zionist Federation, it was a way to save Jews from the claws of an increasingly hostile regime and attract them to Palestine, while for the Nazi state signing an international agreement was further proof of its legitimacy, broke the Jewish movement of boycotting German goods, and helped the recovery of German exports at a time when the German economy was still in the depth of depression.

[Read more…]


Ken Livingstone blames ‘embittered Blairite MPs’ for antisemitism row

The Guardian reports: Ken Livingstone has refused to apologise to the Jewish community for insensitive comments linking Zionism to Adolf Hitler, claiming the crisis at the centre of the Labour party was caused by “embittered old Blairite MPs” and is “not about antisemitism”.

The former mayor of London, speaking on LBC, took the opportunity to publicly say sorry to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the party for causing “disruption” but pointedly refused to apologise for his original comments, which he reasserted as “historical facts” on Saturday.

“I’m sorry to Jeremy and the Labour party that I am caught up in this but it wasn’t me that started this problem, this is embittered old Blairites bringing it up,” he said. “I’m sorry if anyone was upset by what I said, I’m sorry for that. But it happens to be a statement of fact.”

Pushed to say whether he regretted bringing the German dictator into the debate, Livingstone said: “I regret mentioning Hitler because it brought up this nonsense.

“I’m sorry that I said that because it’s wasted all this time but I can’t bring myself to deny the truth and I’m not going to do that. I’m sorry it’s caused disruption.”

Earlier in the interview, the former mayor of London appeared to mistakenly cite a statement by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in his defence. “This is what annoys me about the degradation of British journalism, no one does any research,” he said.

“Two days before I did that interview [on Thursday], the prime minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu is addressing the World Zionist Congress, this is the sentence he says: ‘Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews but only to expel them.’ Now, I haven’t seen that in any British paper, I had to get it off the internet.”

In fact, Livingstone appears to be referring to Netanyahu’s address to the WZC in October last year, where the Israeli PM did not refer to Zionists collaborating with Hitler, but instead accused the second world war Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem of having suggested the genocide of the Jews to the Nazi leader. [Continue reading…]