Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

When Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTHE MEMO: For Trump, an early test of leadership Trump tried to call NY attorney before firing him: report Fired U.S. attorney invokes shuttered New York corruption panel in tweet MORE last called for a Muslim ban as a presidential candidate, Jewish and Christian leaders across the United States immediately raised our voices and condemned his plan.

When Trump hastily issued an Executive Order, preventing citizens, travelers, and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Jewish and Christian leaders across our own diverse theological traditions and denominations took to the streets, airwaves, and airports to stop the ban. We celebrated the justice won when courts across the country placed a stay on the order.

This new travel ban attempts to achieve the same exclusionary end. As White House policy adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News last month, it will have the same basic policy outcome.

That same basic policy outcome means discriminating against six Muslim-majority nations, establishing a policy that the current administrations own Department of Homeland Security deem unnecessary. Our refugee and visitor vetting systems are already very strong and effective.

That same basic policy outcome means Trump and his advisers want to create national security policy that appears to be based on religious discrimination and a culture of fear, instead of reason and evidence. Trumps rejection of the DHS report demonstrates he is more likely to accept beliefs that fit Steve Bannon and Stephen Millers world view that Islam is at war with the West.

“Trump’s travel ban legally sound, defensible all the way to SCOTUS” https://t.co/ilFCwt5HqD pic.twitter.com/nzFo5YG88U

That same basic policy outcome violates the principles established in the Constitution. Our nation was founded on the freedom of religion and we must protect that freedom for all Americans today.

According to our shared scriptures, God commands people of faith to love our neighbors. Not some of them, all of them. Our nations growing shame of profiling Muslims, anti-Semitism, the ongoing brutality against people of color, and renewed marginalization of transgender people reveal just a few ways we fail to fulfill justice for all. Generation after generation of Americans have sought to make our Founders ideals a lived reality in our country. The stakes are too high for us to lose ground on the liberty for which our ancestors fought.

While we welcome Trumps recent denunciation of anti-Semitism in his recent speech to Congress, we call upon him to demonstrate his commitment to religious freedom for all Americans. While we applaud Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceJews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again. Pence takes GOP healthcare pitch on the road Ryan becomes face of GOP health plan MOREs helping clean up a vandalized Jewish cemetery, wed like to see all our elected officials do the same for desecrated mosques.

Jewish and Christian leaders must again rise to this occasion and stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. This Muslim Ban 2.0 is the next in a series of actions by the administration that make Muslim Americans feel unwelcome in their own country. Each of our religious traditions, Islam included, regard hospitality to those different from us as a sign of faith and obedience to God.

“Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban 2.0′ is still the same flawed, un-American mess” https://t.co/zjVKFPqhIk pic.twitter.com/cY4S2x5R6H

Each of us must resist this order in our own way. For 20 of our rabbinic colleagues, that meant getting arrested after the first iteration of the ban. For an increasing number of churches, it means joining the Sanctuary Movement, declaring our sacred spaces a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants. For the two of us a European-American, straight, Jewish rabbi and an African-American, gay, Presbyterian minister it means building an honest, sometimes complicated friendship, yet standing shoulder to shoulder for what is right at this defining moment.

We hope you will join us. In whatever way possible, we must again and again send an unmistakable message to this White House: the Jewish and Christian communities in the United States will rise up and resist any attempt and any form of Muslim Ban enacted by Trump. The future of our nation and the integrity of our faithfulness to our God depends upon it.

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky is the director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rev. Bertram Johnson is the Minister of Justice, Advocacy, and Change at the Riverside Church. They both reside in New York City.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Jews and Christians must oppose Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Again … – The Hill (blog)

Holiday bomb threats target 5 Jewish centers in US, Canada – CNN

None of the threats proved real in the latest wave of intimidating acts targeting the Jewish community.

For some centers, though, it was not their first ordeal.

The Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center in Rochester, New York, was evacuated Sunday morning for the second time in less than a week.

The center was hosting a “warming center” for people whose homes had lost power when the bomb threat came, Executive Director Arnie Sohinki said.

It reopened without incident a few hours later after receiving an all-clear from law enforcement, Sohinki said. he would not provide further details, citing the police investigation.

“We are open. We will remain open. Whoever is doing this doesn’t realize this only makes us #stronger, ” the center said in a Facebook post. “All are welcome to join us at the JCC.”

The Rochester JCC was one of several Jewish institutions to receive a bomb threat on Sunday. The threats coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festive commemoration of the defeat of a plot to exterminate Jews in ancient Persia.

Other locations reporting similar threats included Indianapolis Jewish Community Center in Indiana; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada; and The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All reopened a few hours later without incident.

The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston also received a bomb threat — its second in three weeks, Executive Vice President Joel Dinkin said. The center, which received the threat via email, was not evacuated.

The threats were the latest acts in a recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. Museums, houses of worship, advocacy groups and cemeteries have been targets of bomb threats and vandalism as federal officials work with state and local authorities to find those responsible.

Sunday’s incidents bring the number of threats since January in the United States and Canada to 154, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

The Louis S. Wolk JCC also received a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 7, the same day another center in Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters received threats. No devices were found at the locations and the centers reopened soon after.

After the first bomb threat, the Rochester center had opened its doors to those who lost power in a winter storm blanketing the Northeast. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bomb threat “despicable” given the center’s service to the community.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “cowardly,” especially on a holiday weekend celebrating “the resiliency of the Jewish people.”

“Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a statement.

Cuomo said he would direct state police to investigate the bomb threats in conjunction with federal officials. Last week, Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio increased a reward for information on hate crimes — not just bomb threats — to $20,000.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division vowed to investigate possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time,” the federal agency said.

CNN’s Kwegyirba Croffie, Sara Ganim and Laurie Ure contributed to this report.

Read more from the original source:
Holiday bomb threats target 5 Jewish centers in US, Canada – CNN

District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

A semester-long Holocaust literature class taught in several of Lincolns high schools for more than 15 years will no longer end with a one-day trip to the Holocaust museum in Washington.

At least it wont be a school-sponsored trip, and, as far as Lincoln Southeast High School teacher Paul Smith is concerned, that means he wont be able to take students.

To me that says that theyre not going to cover me for a substitute, for liability, period, said Smith, who created the class at Southeast in 2001.

Smith said the classes haven’t gone on trips to Washington for a few years because the airline cost had become prohibitive. But he checks each semester, and found some good deals for this spring.

So he planned the trip, sent information home to parents and told his principal, who said he needed to get permission from the district office.

The answer: the district no longer sponsors the trip.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for instruction, said the policy regarding trips was revised in 2014 and district officials determined the Holocaust literature trip should not be sponsored, though the teacher could still take students in a non-sponsored trip.

LPS policy allows principals to approve field trips during the regular school day. It also allows for travel for extracurricular activities such as sports and fine arts.

Nonroutine trips require approval of the district office. Many of the trips taken by bands, swing choirs, dance groups or students in various competitions such as We The People fall into that category.

The policy says nonsponsored school trips — those where the district takes no responsibility — include such things as travel for club sports teams, an out-of-state band trip organized by a booster club or a foreign language teacher taking students abroad during the summer. The trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum now falls under that umbrella in school policy.

They can still take the trip, Stavem said.

When the policy was revised, district officials wanted to be more consistent about making sure all school trips followed district policy. For instance, the policy requires all students have the opportunity to take the trip, even low-income students who qualify for a waiver of student fees, she said.

Among the factors the district considers are the length of absence, the educational value, adequate supervision, alternatives that would be closer to home and the amount of preparation.

The fact that the trip happened in the middle of the week and travel required students be up late, and the lack of extended planning were among the reasons the trip wasn’t approved to be sponsored, Stavem said.

Mark Gudgel, who taught the Holocaust class at Southwest for a decade and now teaches at Omaha Public Schools, said the trip is an experience that cant be duplicated in class.

Frankly it doesnt seem like whats best for kids is being considered at all, he said. In my experience the experiential learning that takes place in one of those museums and outside the classroom far exceeds what I can do in the classroom. Ive witnessed it changing students lives.

Gudgel joined LPS because he wanted to teach such a class. He often expanded the trips his students took to several days to include a visit to New York City.

Today, he teaches humanities classes at Omaha North High School and has loosely modeled similar trips after the LPS Holocaust classes.

The top headlines from JournalStar.com. Delivered at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday.

The Holocaust literature class delves into the Holocaust and uses that as a basis to talk about present-day genocides, tolerance, prejudice and discrimination.

Interest in the class grew rapidly in those early years and by 2003, and today, most of the LPS high schools offer a Holocaust literature class.

Smith said in the years when the classes didn’t travel to Washington, he tried to find speakers but there was no regular alternative.

And he said he doesnt understand how a trip like this differs from trips taken by school bands or dance troupes.

You can take a bunch of kids dancing in Orlando for a week, he said. I just want to take them to a museum for crying out loud.

Because of seating limitations on the plane, he said hes had to use a lottery system for the trips in the past. And theres always a waiting list for the class. When they traveled, Smith typically researched the flights and shared the information with teachers at other schools.

You cant put a price tag on the experience kids get at the museum, Smith said.

What we have in our own nations capitol is second to none, he said. The insight you get looking at things through a different lens, survivors who are volunteers, historians. You are getting first-hand experiences, first-hand knowledge — things you cant get from literature, a book or a video.

See the original post here:
District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

Im not insensitive to anti-Semitism. Despite growing up in Jew-friendly New York City, I experienced my share of it kids throwing rocks at my Jewish Day School bus, anti-Semitic graffiti on our homes fence, among other incidents. And as Volokh Conspiracy readers know, Ive blogged quite a bit about anti-Semitism. Ive mostly written about anti-Semitism coming from the far left, but Im not at all naive about the existence and virulence of anti-Semitism on the far right.

Nevertheless, Ive been rather taken aback by the panic in the Jewish community over American anti-Semitism since Donald Trump won the election. The recent spate of hoax bombing threats to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions around the country has been a precipitating factor, but the fear is drastically out of proportion to the threat; no bombs have been found, and there are no indications that there is any real physical threat to Jews. By contrast, in the past decade or so there have been actual murdersat a JCC and a Jewish federation officewithout precipitating such panic.

It seems that much of the panic is in fact due to Trump, with the JCC threats seen as a potential first sign of the deteriorating status of American Jews. WhileJews are the most-liked religious group in the United Sates, some degree of trepidation is not unreasonable. AsAndrew Silow-Carroll points out,

Most Jews didnt vote for him, and regarded his campaign antics as particularly unsettling, from his appeal among white supremacists and ethno-nationalists to his willingness to exploit the countrys racial and ethnic divides.

In his embrace of a fiercely chauvinistic economic nationalism, White House strategist SteveBannon represents something unprecedented and inconceivable in the minds of many Jews. Until Trump, resurgent nationalism seemed a problem for Europe, where economic malaise, fear of immigrants and the ghosts of the 20thcentury have combined intoa particularly toxic brew on the right.

Yet, just looking at my Facebook feed, the origins of the fear bear only a tangential relationship to the actual Trump campaign. For example, Ive lost track of how many times Jewish friends and acquaintances in my Facebook feed have asserted, as a matter of settled fact, that Bannons website BreitbartNews is a white-supremacist, anti-Semitic site. I took the liberty of searching for every article published at Breitbart that has the words Jew, Jewish, Israel or anti-Semitism in it, and can vouch for the fact that the website is not only not anti-Semitic, but often criticizes anti-Semitism (though it is quite ideologically selective in which types of anti-Semitism it chooses to focus on). Ive invited Bannons Facebook critics to actually look at Breitbart and do a similar search on the site, and each has declined, generally suggesting that it would be beneath them to look at such a site, when they alreadyknow its anti-Semitic.

There is also a general sense among Jews, at least liberal Jews, that Trumps supporters are significantly more anti-Semitic than the public at large. I have many times asked for empirical evidence that supports this proposition, and have so far come up empty. I dont rule out the possibility that its true, but there doesnt seem to be any survey or other evidence supporting it. Given that American subgroups with the highest proportions of anti-Semites African Americans, first-generation Hispanic immigrants, Muslims and high school dropouts are strong Democratic constituencies (though the latter group appears to have gone narrowly for Trump this time), one certainly cant simply presume that Trump has a disproportionate number of anti-Semitic supporters.

Often living in a blue bubble, liberal Jews easily can panic when they dont know anyone who voted for the other sides candidate(s), and can assume the worst about the other sides supporters. Indeed, liberal Jews tend to panic whenever the right is doing well in American politics. Consider this Wall Street Journal headline from exactly 22years ago: Religious Fervor: Some Liberal Jews, To Their Own Surprise, See a Rise in Bigotry And, Unlike Many Orthodox, Theyre Concerned About The Rights New Power. The article elaborates:

These are anxious times for American Jews. Still reeling from the results of the November election, many liberal Jews are alarmed by the rise of the religious right. They are increasingly uncomfortable with verbal attacks by conservative commentators on the cultural elite and on Hollywood, both of which they believe are code words for Jews. And they are shaken by well-publicized reports of neo-Nazi groups and of anti-Semitic violence by teenage skinheads. Suddenly, secular Jews for whom anti-Semitism was always something remote are feeling a new vulnerability and wondering whether the political and religious tide is turning against them.

Remember the great anti-Semitic pogroms of 1995? Neither do I. To take another example, Im not sure what, if anything, Philip Roth was trying to say with his 2004 book The Plot Against America, but I know liberal Jewish reviewers welcomed it as a warning of the ever-present threat of anti-Semitic right-wing fascism looming over the United States in Republican-dominated America.

Meanwhile, Jewish defense groups, most prominently the Anti-Defamation League, have stoked the panic with wildly exaggerated rhetoric. Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Democratic politico who now runs the ADL, stated in November that the American Jewish community has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s.Among other omissions, Greenblatt must have slept through the George W. Bush administration, when mainstream experts, mostly on the left, were claiming that the small number of Jews in the Bush administration had somehow manipulated the Gentiles running the administration into leading the United States into a war against Iraq to benefit Israel. Unlike the current anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from the neo-Nazi fringes, these allegations were coming from places such as theHarvard University and the University of Chicago faculties.

The ADL, though, has a strong self-interest in such exaggerated complaints. When Greenblatt took over the ADL from the long-serving Abraham Foxman, he announced that the younger generation among ADLs primary constituency, liberal, secular Jews, was no longer terribly interested in the issue of anti-Semitism, and instead wanted the ADL to focus on oppression more generally. The enthusiasmand fund-raising dollars were in supporting Black Lives Matter and transgender rights, not worrying about anti-Semitism on college campuses. One strongly suspects that this is because the threat of anti-Semitism was seen primarily as coming from the anti-Israel left. Trump created a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for the ADL to focus on what is naturally its core issue, anti-Semitism (and also to ensure that the more conservative Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose director was invited to give the invocation at Trumps inauguration, doesnt steal its thunder), by focusing on the threat from the right. The ADLs reticent donors are no longer reticent in the age of Trump, with the media reporting that donations have been pouring in since Trumps victory. Its therefore hardly in the ADLs interest to objectively assess the threat from Trump and his supporters. Indeed, Im almost impressed that an ADL official managed just the other day to link the JCC bomb threats to emboldened white supremacists, even though the only suspect caught so far is an African American leftist. Meanwhile,Foxman has been a cooler head who has been telling people, cool it, cool it.

Another group that has had a strong incentive to exaggerate the present threat of right-wing anti-Semitism isJewish progressive activists. For the past decade or so, leftist Jews have increasingly found themselves excluded from progressive coalitions that not only take very harsh anti-Israel lines, but also have refused to take seriously anti-Semitism in their midst, suggesting that allegations of such anti-Semitism are mere covers for the privilege of white Zionists. So long as the problem of American anti-Semitism was largely associated with anti-Zionism and far-left politics more generally, Jews were not permitted to be part of a coalition of the marginalized.

Lo and behold, along comes Trump, and left-wing Jewish activists are portraying Jews as one of the many groups threatened by him. Trump, and, more specifically, exaggerating the threat of anti-Semitism from Trump and his supporters, gives these Jews an opportunity to, for example, stand side by side with Muslim activists in opposing various isms and phobias, rather than quarreling with them over Israel.

The irony of all this is that if you talk privately to those who work in the Jewish organization world, many will confide that the greatest threat to the security of the American Jewish community is changing demographics, which is a euphemism for a growing population of Arab migrants to the United States. Anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the public holding strongly anti-Semitic views in many countries. The issue of whether and to what extent the United States should expand refugee admissions is a complex one, and a potential rise in (potentially violent) anti-Semitism, at least in the short term until refugees and their families assimilate, is hardly the only factor to be considered. But its surely a paradox that the groups and individuals who express the most public fear of potential anti-Semitism emanating from the Trump administration express little if any concern about the potential problems of admitting an untold number of refugees and immigrants from countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane.

More here:
The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017 – The Washington Post

In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall

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Posted: Mar 13, 2017 12:01 AM

THIS WEEKEND, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day.” But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasuerus’s queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults!) wear costumes and at every mention of Haman’s name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

It’s easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pew’s second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. “We love our country, and America loves us right back,” wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trump’s strong appeal to white nationalists, the anti-Semitic memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel “apartheid” slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isn’t surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But history’s oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their “race.”

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

“We love our country, and America loves us right back.” That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since shattered. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is No. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isn’t only Jews who will suffer.

Read the original:
In The Land Where Jews Are Welcome, Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise – Townhall

In the land where Jews feel welcome, anti-Semitism is on the rise – The Boston Globe

Jewish tombstones lay vandalized at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia on February 27, 2017.

This weekend, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day. But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasueruss queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults) wear costumes and at every mention of Hamans name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

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Its easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pews second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. We love our country, and America loves us right back, wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

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Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

In the twenty-first century, criticism of Israel that is grounded in antisemitic thinking and aimed at Jews in general has become the dominant verbal form in which Judeophobic ideas are articulated and disseminated. Between 2002 and 2012, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany received over 14,000 emails, letters, postcards and faxes from all regions of Germany. Figuring that this material could provide us a window into the contemporary German mind vis–vis Israel, we conducted a study of these messages and found that the vast majority began with criticisms of Israels policies but immediately deteriorated into antisemitic assaults. We call this phenomenon the Israelization of Antisemitism.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

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Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trumps strong appeal to white nationalists, the Jew-baiting memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel apartheid slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isnt surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But historys oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their race.

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

We love our country, and America loves us right back. That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since crumbled. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is no. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isnt only Jews who will suffer.

Follow this link:
In the land where Jews feel welcome, anti-Semitism is on the rise – The Boston Globe

Once again, Israel’s critics are being hypocritical – LA Times

To the editor: Its hypocritical that the issue of human rights violations by Israel rears its head again in this discussion of the law recently passed by Israels Knesset. A country wanting to maintain calm within its borders by banning outside agitators violates the rights of agitators trying to enter the country? Really? (Israel passes a travel ban targeting boycott supporters, March 6)

Palestinian society fails to act against so-called honor killings, fails to acknowledge the rights of gays and fails to promote gender equality. It arbitrarily arrests and uses torture against detainees, illegally executes prisoners, suppresses free speech, does not allow a free press and does not tolerate minorities. It also ignores violence against Jews and glorifies those who kill Israelis.

That, it seems to me, constitutes far more egregious violations of human rights. Why doesnt the international community inveigh against Palestinian human rights violations?

Emanuel R. Baker, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: I am an American Jew, born and raised in Southern California.

I have long been disconcerted about Israels policies and the undemocratic treatment of the native Palestinians. Consequently, because I believe in fairness and justice for all peoples, I have supported the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel is the homeland of all Jews and has encouraged them to live in that country. However, now that Israels parliament has banned my entry into Israel, I assume I am no longer welcome.

That is OK, as the United States is my homeland.

Jared Sloan, Los Angeles

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

See the original post here:
Once again, Israel’s critics are being hypocritical – LA Times

Lox to advance: How Israel’s WBC team engineered the greatest …

Theyre not Jewish for the jokes. Just for the baseball.

On this team I can say the most random Seinfeld reference and everyone laughs and quotes the next line. Its the only baseball team in the world that can do that, says Cody Decker, one of the 28 players representing the early darlings of the World Baseball Classic: Team Israel, a cobbled-together, schmatta-tag bunch that would love to turn the leaflet of famous Jewish sports legends into, at the very least, a pamphlet.

With a pair of victories in its first two WBC games, Team Israel clinched a berth in the second round of the tournament, which was designed to grow international baseball in places like Israel, where the sport barely exists. Only one of its players carries an Israeli passport. Another pitches competitively in the Israel Association of Baseball. The rest are Americans whose Jewish ancestry allows them to adhere to tournament rules and play for the team, even if they havent seen a synagogue in years.

There is no Sandy Koufax among this tribe. There might not even be a Moe Berg. Considering invitations were turned down by the best Jewish players in the world Ryan Braun, Joc Pederson, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Pillar and Alex Bregman would have made for a mighty lineup one very well could call this the greatest miracle for Jews since the oil burned for eight days.

Team Israel sees something else. In 2009, a team from the Netherlands, where the sport is called honkbal, twice stunned the Dominican Republic. Four years later, Team Italy, comprised mostly of Americans, upset Mexico and Canada to advance. Now, in its first WBC, Israel has played spoiler. And with its final game in pool play at 4:30 a.m. ET Thursday against the Dutch team to determine which will emerge with the top seed before the second round begins in Tokyo on Sunday, Israeli baseball gets to show the world why its more than an oxymoron.

Its a large group of really talented ballplayers who all have been kicked around a lot in their career, Decker says. We dont have a single star on this team. Its all the role players who made the stars look good. Everyone on this team has been passed over no pun intended on that one.

Cody Decker has brought personality to Team Israel. (AP)

During his down time as a scout for the Houston Astros, Alex Jacobs would play a guessing game: Jew or not a Jew? As the director of player personnel for Team Israel, Jacobs was in charge of filling out the teams roster with the best available players. That meant starting with the obvious I would look for names that sounded like they could be Jewish, Jacobs says and graduating to more unconventional methods.

He scoured for players who married Jewish women. He called temples in the Dominican Republic and Colombia to inquire about Jewish congregants. He found out one Panamanian player wears a Star of David and considered reaching out to him. He trawled websites with pictures of gravestones. He sought certificates verifying bar mitzvah dates and Hebrew school report cards.

The standard for a non-national joining a WBC team is the ability to become a citizen, and Israel happens to have extremely lax laws when it comes to those with a Jewish connection. Married to a Jew, like Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas? You can get Israeli citizenship and play for Team Israel. (Moustakas, coming off a torn ACL, couldnt get insured.) Was one of your grandparents Jewish? Good enough, so long as theres proof like the gravestones. Are you more cultural Jew than religious? Cool. That covers pretty much the entire roster.

There arent a whole lot of us in baseball, Decker says. Even if you arent very religious, youre still a minority, and in the baseball world youre practically a minority of a minority of a minority if youre Jewish. Its such a small percentage, it doesnt calculate to a percent.

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Decker is right. According to a tally on Jewish Baseball News a real website and not a subsidiary of The Onion there are only eight Jews among 1,200 on teams 40-man rosters. About 60 populate the minor leagues, where there are around 6,000 players a year.

Jacobs got so desperate he started mining names of childhood friends for inspiration. He remembered one with the last name of Walsh, which prompted him to reach out via Facebook to Colin Walsh, a utilityman in the Atlanta Braves organization. Walsh, Jacobs said, was grateful for the contact and appreciated the opportunity. There was one problem.

Im all Irish, Walsh said.

Jacobs roster, it turns out, was plenty serviceable. Eight players have spent time in the major leagues, including 15-year veteran Jason Marquis, the teams top starter, and Decker, who has played Max Patkin to his teammates. On the ride to Brooklyn, where Israel needed to win a September qualifier to gain entry into the tournament, Decker started a trivia contest. He is the king of kibitzing, a one-liner here, a crack there, a pat on the back when needed. For good luck, he brought a Mensch on a Bench doll, the Jewish answer to the Elf on a Shelf. And unlike 2013, when Israel failed to advance despite owning the same record as the eventual qualifier, Spain, 2017 was a breeze: three wins by a combined score of 15-3.

The team was rewarded with more than a spot in the tournament. In early January, players flew to Israel, where they climbed Masada, toured Jerusalem and placed messages in the Western Wall. They went to the best field in the country, at a place called Baptist Village because of course the best field in Israel is at a place called Baptist Village and met with groups of children. The players maintained a text chain throughout the winter, the anticipation of the tournament building, the excitement overwhelming.

Team Israels Ike Davis, left, and teammate Cody Decker chat during practice at the Baptist Village sport complex in Israel. (AP)

Decker, who signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason, reached out to a friend who runs a T-shirt-printing company and asked if he could do a play on the Brew Crew nickname of his new team. Three days later, the prototype was better than Decker couldve imagined: a smiling man, wearing a beard, a tallis and high socks, swinging a bat, with one word above his hat and the other beneath his shoes: JEW CREW.

This is the first time in my life, besides playing for the JCC when I was 14 years old in a basketball tournament, where youre in a locker room full of players and coaches and trainers and theyre all Jewish, pitcher Josh Zeid says. You go in the lobby of the hotel, and everyones mothers are there, and theyre all talking to each other.

Their cocktail of exhilaration and fear and elation and nerves boiled over during the first game of the tournament Monday at Gocheok Sky Dome. Israel scored a run in the second inning. Korea evened the game in the fifth. On it went, until the 10th, the same inning Zeid yielded a walk, hit a batter and surrendered a two-run single four years earlier in the loss that ended Israels tournament hopes. A two-out, two-strike infield single from Scott Burcham drove in the go-ahead run Monday, and Zeid came out for his third inning of work.

After spending two years with the Houston Astros, he had bounced around the last two seasons, even spending time in the independent Atlantic League. Nobody signed him this offseason. This, Zeid figured, might be his last shot. Which is why when Dae-ho Lee, who slugged 14 home runs in the major leagues last year, swung through a 97-mph fastball to end the game, Zeid yelled and pumped his fist and hugged his catcher and lost himself in this tournament that still lacks traction in the United States but is replete with meaning to so many others.

Ive been lucky enough to play in the major leagues, Zeid says. But that was the single biggest, most exciting moment of my baseball career.

Josh Zeid was pumped after getting the last out against Korea on Monday. (Getty Images)

You gonna do it? Nate Freiman said.

You bet your ass Im gonna do it, Decker said.

Freiman was Deckers teammate in the minor leagues, so he knows the idiosyncrasies, the hilarities and the tendencies down pat. Which meant he understood every time his team gets a hit for the first time in a game, Decker unleashes a catchphrase that somehow manages not to get old. The first eight words are always the same. The last changes depending on the team, and Freiman wanted to know if Team Israel would get the pleasure of hearing it. Decker made sure, loud and clear:

Nobody, and I mean nobody, no-hits the Jews!

He did it when they beat Korea. He did it when they beat Taiwan, 15-7, in their second game. Hell do it against the Netherlands, provided the WBC doesnt see its first no-hitter. And hell do it in Japan, where Decker hopes another tradition for every run scored, the players clap twice and let out a Ric Flair-style Wooooo! will be bountiful.

Rooting them on wont just be Jews across the world but those in the homeland as well. In a tweet Tuesday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew: We are all with you!

So are the 800 or so kids in Israel signed up to play baseball regularly, and the hundreds in Beit Shemesh, a city west of Jerusalem, who were wearing Yankees and Red Sox and Mets jerseys but dont have a viable field on which to play.

That, too, could change soon. If Israel wins the pool, it will receive $1 million in prize money, half of which goes to the players and the other half to the countrys federation. A second-place finish means $700,000. The more Israel wins, the more fields it can build. And the more fields it builds, the likelier the sport is to catch on.

The goal is to not have to rely on the American Jews to play in the tournament, Zeid says. Its a great rule for us to be allowed to do this, but we want the game to grow so large that the kids there are the guys.

For now, the American Jews are happy to bask in the success. Scouts were buzzing about Zeids fastball velocity, and he and Freiman, among others, could parlay their WBC success into jobs with organizations once they return to the states. On Wednesday morning, as the team readied to go to a light workout, an elevator car filled up with players. By the sixth floor, it had exceeded maximum weight capacity. Jacobs volunteered to get off. No, said a man riding the elevator. He was happy to let Jacobs back in. Jacobs thanked Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, the Dutch pitching coach, for the kindness and stepped right on.

The door closed. Everyone in the elevator side-eyed Jacobs.

Who the [expletive] do you think you are, Alex? joked Barry Weinberg, the teams trainer.

Pulling rank for Team Israel, Jacobs said.

Its easy to get caught up in the thrill. The underdogs are winning. The Mensch on a Bench has been upgraded to life-sized. The JEW CREW T-shirt is for sale, with Decker planning on donating all proceeds to the Jewish National Fund. As a wave of anti-Semitism frightens Jews across the United States and around the world, this tiny sliver of respite this game that serves as equalizer and uniter could last even longer than eight days.

Were out here playing for a nation of people who have fought and battled to be as great as they are, Zeid says. And we want them to believe we represent them the right way. I hope were doing that.

No joke: Theyre doing that and much more.

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Lox to advance: How Israel’s WBC team engineered the greatest …

This Sephardi studies scholar sees preserving Ladino as an ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Devin Naar says Ladino connects Jews with Latinos and Muslims, two communities he considers marginalized in Trumps America. (Meryl Schenker Photography/The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at Washington University)

(JTA) One-year-old Vidal doesnt know the significance behind the lullaby his father sings him at bedtime. He knows it helps him fall asleep, but notthat the Ladino song is part of an effort to teach himwhat served asthe lingua franca of Sephardi Jews of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years.

And he doesnt know that whenhe says his first words, he will join a shrinking cadre of Ladino speakers, most of them elderly, who hold the keys to a culture that is on the brink of extinction.

To lose a language is to lose a world, and were on the cusp of that,his father, Devin Naar, told JTA.

Naar, a professor of Sephardic studies at the University of Washington, is deeply passionate about preserving Ladino which is also known as Judeo-Spanish, Judezmo or Judio the language his grandfathers family spoke in their native Greece. By teaching Vidal Ladino, Naar hopes to fulfill a longtime dream of transmitting itslegacyto his son.

In recent months, theres something else at stake too. The 33-year-old Seattle resident sees the linguistic roots of Ladino, which include Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic, as providing a way to connect Jews with Latinos and Muslims.Preserving Ladino is a specific political act of resistance in Trumps America, Naar said.

Its a language of linguistic fusion that is based in Spanish but really brings together a lot of other linguistic elements that I think give it a special resonance, especially in todays world, because it serves as bridge language between different cultures between Jewish culture, between Spanish culture and between the Muslim world, Naar said.

President Donald Trump has signed executive orders to builda wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to banimmigrants from some Muslim majority countries.

If Trump is interested in building a wall, Judezmo serves as a bridge, and I think that we need bridges such as this in our time, Naarsaid.

Naars grandfather came to the United States with most of his familyin 1924 from Salonica, Greece, in the midst of discriminatory measures being passed against Jews there. Family members left behind later perished inthe Holocaust, along with 95 percent of the citys Jews.

In the U.S., there were other difficulties. Naars grandfather heard anti-Semitic slurs and other insults from bigots who mistook him forSouth American or Middle Eastern.

Speaking Ladino serves as a method of reclaiming that heritage and activating that heritage not only for personal and family reasons but for political reasons, Naar said.

Devin Naars grandfather, far right, in Salonica, Greece, in the early 1920s, before they moved to the U.S. (Courtesy of Naar)

Ladino emerged following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, when the communitydispersed throughout the Ottoman Empire and came in contact with local languages as well as different Iberian dialects. At its height in the beginning of the 20th century, the languagehad abouthalf a million speakers, Naar estimated.

Estimates of current Ladino speakers vary widely, from between 160,000-300,000 people with some familiarity withthe language to around 50,000-100,000 speakers. Most of the population today is elderly, but there is renewedinterest in the language in some universities in the U.S. and Israel as well asamong Sephardi Jews.

Teaching VidalLadino has its challenges there is no complete English-Ladino dictionary and most speakers are older.Naarwas recently reading Vidal a childrens book about a dinosaur with slippery flippers and found himselfat a loss for how to translate that expression into Ladino. He consulted a scholar in Israel and a local Ladino speaker to get it right.

Its a learning process for me, both speaking to him and recognizing the limits of my vocabulary and trying to expand my vocabulary, Naarsaid.

But he isnt alone. Naar enlisted the help of a Seattle-basedgroup of elderly Ladino speakers, who translated Little Red Riding Hood into the language as a gift to Vidal. And his wife, Andrea, speaks to their sonin a mix of English, Spanish and Ladino.

Rachel Amado Bortnick, the founder of an online community for Ladino speakers, told JTA thatshe had only heard of one other casein the last decade of a child being taught to speak Ladino.

Theres no community that uses it daily its very challenging, to put it mildly, to actually pass on the language in the way that a person like me grew up in, said Bortnick, who learned Ladino as a child in her native Turkey.

Naars interest in the language goes back to his family history. He grew up hearing his grandfather and older relatives speak the language.

But by the time he started college in 2001, he had only learned a few words: greetings, curses, food-related words and liturgical passages. Questions from classmates about his last name, which did not sound like the Ashkenazi Jewish names they were familiar with, motivated him to dig deeper into his heritage.

He started studying Sephardi history and asked his grandfather to teach him Ladino.

A year later, Naar was able to read letters detailing the fate of family members who had perished in Auschwitz. The letters, written in Ladino by a family friend after World War II, had been tucked away in a closet, and some of Naars family members had been unaware of their existence and the details they provided ofthe deaths of family members.

The older generation, they couldnt believe it. They hadnt heard somebody speak like that in years, so that was very powerful for me, Naar said.

Now hes doing his part to pass the language on to the next generation and with it, a set of values.

One of my goals in trying to teach Vidal Ladino would be so that he has a sense of connection and awareness, not only of where he comes from, but also how the culture that he is connected to is connected to many other people, so that if he sees that immigrants in general or Spanish-speaking immigrants or Muslims in America are being maligned, I hope that he would be inspired to stand up.

Devin Naar is reading his son, Vidal, childrens books in Ladino as well as translating books from English into the language. (Courtesy of Naar)

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This Sephardi studies scholar sees preserving Ladino as an ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Abbas to increase outreach to US Jews; Hamas confirms platform change; Celebrating Purim in NY Prisons – Jewish Week

Abbas sees U.S. Jews as a force for peace

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas intends to increase outreach to the American Jewish community, the Jerusalem Post reports. The paper cited Husam Zomlot, the PAs ambassador- at-large to the United States, following a meeting yesterday between Abbas, and 30 leaders of Reform Judaism, including Union of Reform Judaism presidentRabbi Rick Jacobsat the the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

This will not be a one-time meeting, Zomlot said. The president sees the mainstream Jewish community in the United States as a force for peace that can help us advance the cause of the two-state solution and combat voices of extremism.

Hamas confirms new pragmatic position

Hamas, the political terrorist group that has ruled Gaza for a decade, is drafting a new platform that will present a more pragmatic and cooperative face to the world, defining its enemies in Israel as occupiers instead of Jews, the New York Times reports.

Taher el-Nounou, a Hamas spokesman, confirmed yesterday that the platform will accept the borders of land Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War as the basis for a Palestinian state, but that Hamas will not recognize Israel.

The platform, designed to alleviate Hamas international isolation, still requires the approval of the Hamas governing bodies, the Times reports.

The medium-security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in New York, where Chabad rabbis will bring the Purim cheer this year. Wikimedia Commons

Purim behind bars: Chabad brings holiday to Jewish inmates

Rabbis and rabbinical students from the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic movement will observe Purim with Jewish prisoners behind the walls of more than 40 correctional facilities in New York State this weekend, chabad.org reports. The holiday starts Saturday night. Some 4,017 inmates (3,981 men and six women) in the state identify as Jews, according to the New York State Corrections and Community Supervisions Under Custody Report.

The team of volunteer rabbis is led by Rabbi Kasriel Kastel of Brooklyn, N.Y., who has served as program director of theLubavitchYouth Organization for 49 years.

Swiss legislators defund anti-Semitic groups

Switzerlands lower house of parliament has voted to halt public funding fororganizationsthat promote racism, anti-Semitism and hate, JTA reports.

Submitted by Christian Imark of the right-wing populist Swiss PeoplesParty, the bill passed Wednesday by a vote of 111 to 78, with all center-rightmainstream parties in support. Voting against the measure were the SocialDemocratic, Green and Green-Liberal parties.

The matter now goes to the Council of States, Switzerlands upper house of parliament, which reportedly will consider the bill in May.

Amazon.com in UK removes Holocaust-denial books

The British arm of the amazon.com online bookselling firm has removed three titles from sale because they deny the Holocaust, the Times of Israel reports. The action follows requests from Yad Vashem and the Englands Board of Deputies umbrella organization.

The four titles are Holocaust: The Greatest Lie Ever Told, by Eleanor Wittakers; The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, by Arthur R. Butz and Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood.

Anti-Semitic holiday invitation in Lithuania

The mayor of a Lithuanian city this week invited residents to a party in honor of a local holiday and included anti-Semitic references on the invitation, Arutz Sheva reports. During the holiday in Naisiai, local residents chase away the winter, but Jewish residents of the town say the anti-Semitic undertones grow stronger every year, and include pictures of stereotypical Jews, similar to the ones from before World War II.

The leader of the Jewish community, Paina Kokliansy, harshly criticized the mayor and the citys Culture Committee Head, who published on the invitation pictures of people dressed up as Jews.

One Lithuanian who moved to Israel said, All of Europe has a holiday in which they chase away the winter. But in Lithuania there are also lots of characters witches, Satan, gypsies, and Jews. They show all the stereotypes, in a very insulting and anti-Semitic fashion.

They used to say Jews want to steal the holiday. It wasnt always like this, the former Lithuanian said. I wouldnt want to raise a child in Lithuania today, because I would not want to have to explain whats happening there. Sentences like, Lets take a stick and beat the Jew are sentences you dont hear here in Israel.

Trump immigrant policy reminiscent of earlier anti-Jewish measures

The revised travel issued by the Trump administration reminds novelist Ellen Umansky of anti-immigrant policies that excluded Jews, Chinese and other minority groups from the United States in the 1930s, she writes in slate.com.

Our rejection of refugees is an inextricable part of the American story, and Trumps ban hews to that narrative more than wed prefer to recall, she writes on the online news site. One such black spot on our history mirrors the present moment particularly closely. In the late 1930s, the United States had a chance to save 20,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi persecution, by means of a program that would have mirrored the British Kindertransport.

Sen. Robert Wagner, Democrat of New York, and Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican of Massachusetts, jointly introduced a bill to admit 20,000 unaccompanied child refugees, 14 or younger, into the United States. The bill stipulated that the costs of caring for the children would be borne by the private sector and, crucially, that the refugees admitted would not count against the quotas limiting U.S. immigration, she wrote. But the opposition struck back with calls to, yes, put America first.

Amid backlash, twoJewish museums open in Portugal

Two municipalities in Portugal opened museums about their Jewish heritage last week amid protests byresidents of thecapital Lisbon againstthe ongoing construction of a third and larger one.

In the northeastern city of Braganca, the municipality opened a two-story Sephardi Interpretive Center that focuses on the life of Jews under persecution in 15th and 16th centuries. And on Thursday, a smaller Jewish Memorial Center opened in the town of Vila Cova Coelheira east of the northern city of Porto.

Separately, the Association for Heritage and Population in Alfama organized a news conference Wednesday to express its opposition to the ongoing construction of the four-story Jewish museum being built in the neighborhood.

The building, which will feature a facade with a large Star of David, breaks with the neighborhoods tradition, a spokeswoman for the residents association was quoted by the Public newspaper as saying in an article about the opposition.

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Abbas to increase outreach to US Jews; Hamas confirms platform change; Celebrating Purim in NY Prisons – Jewish Week

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Palestinian man alleged to be part of terror cell killed in shootout with Israeli troops

JERUSALEM (JTA)A Palestinian man who allegedly was part of a terror cell planning attack on Israeli targets was killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Basel al-Aaraj was killed overnight Monday during an IDF arrest raid in Ramallah in the northern West Bank.

Al-Aaraj, 31, was shot and killed by Israeli troops after they surrounded the house where he was holed up in order to arrest him. He opened fire on the troops, according to the IDF.

Al-Aaraj was alleged to be part of a terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks on Israeli targets and allegedly was responsible for procuring weapons. An M-16 rifle and an improvised Carlo-style submachine gun were found inside the home, the IDF said.

Al-Araj was detained without charges or explanation by Palestinian security forces in April last year, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. He was released in September after mounting a hunger strike in prison amid reports of torture and mistreatment.

On Sunday, two Palestinian men from Nablus were arrested at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank on suspicion that they were planning to carry out a stabbing attack there. One of the men was carrying a large knife.

Annexing West Bank will lead to crisis with Trump administration, Liberman warns

JERUSALEM (JTA)Annexing the West Bank will lead to a crisis with the Trump administration, Israels Defense Minister warned.

I am saying it as clearly as possible: We received a direct message from the United States saying that Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration, Avigdor Liberman said Monday during an appearance before the Knessets Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Liberman called on the ruling government coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify very clearly, there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty. Liberman is due to meet with top U.S. administration officials this week in Washington.

The warning came in response to an interview over the weekend with Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar, who told the Israeli news channel i24 News that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible.

The two-state solution is dead, Zohar said. What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset. They will get all of the rights like every citizen except voting for the Knesset.

Liberman said the interview raised red flags around the world. Im getting calls from all of the world wanting to know if this is the position of the coalition, he told the Knesset committee. As far as my opinion is concerned, we need to separate from the Palestinians and not to integrate them. The decision to annex Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) would mean the integration of 2.7 million Palestinians in Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump has not called specifically for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. When asked about the topic last month during a news conference in Washington with Netanyahu, Trump said: I like the one the two parties like… I can live with either one.

Trumps position diverges with that of previous U.S. presidents, who said two states was the only viable solution for resolving the conflict.

Israeli decries Womens Strike organizer convicted in bombing that killed her uncle

(JTA)The niece of an Israeli killed in a terrorist attack nearly 50 years ago criticized the planned International Womens Strike for allowing one of the convicted terrorists in a leadership position.

In an op-ed published last week on the Huffington Post website, Terry Joffe Benaryeh said she commends the goal of the strike, a push for womens equality. The strike is planned for March 8, the official observance of International Womens Day

But, explain how my family is supposed to reconcile the reality that the woman who stripped my uncle of his life is now deemed a hero by many of my fellow Americans. What justification is there for Rasmea Odeh, a woman who killed two people (with the intention of killing more!) to lead a peaceful fight for human rights? Benaryeh wrote.

Eddie Joffe and Leon Kanner were killed at the Supersol market in Jerusalem on Feb. 21. 1969, when a bomb set by Odeh and an accomplice exploded in the crowded store. Nine people were injured in the blast.

Odeh was arrested in March 1969. She was convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She spent 10 years in an Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980.

Odeh confessed to planting the bomb, though in recent years has claimed that the confession was given under torture, which is disputed by Israeli officials.

Explain to me how Odeh, who was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group, was chosen to represent American feminists who seek to peacefully stand up for womens rights, Benaryeh wrote. The Womens Strike lists as its Principle #1 that Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice and utilizes the righteous indignation and spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation. Rasmea Odeh signed her name to this movement. And she did so with blood on her hands.

Odeh, an associate director at the Arab American Action Network, was found guilty in November 2014 of lying on her application for citizenship to the United States by covering up her conviction and imprisonment for the bombing attacks when she entered the United States in 1995. She applied for citizenship in 2004.

In December 2016, a federal judge ordered a new trial, in which Odeh reportedly will be allowed to show she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when she was interviewed in Detroit during the citizenship process, a claim that was not introduced in her first trial.

U.S. lawmakers visit potential sites for embassy move to Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)A delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives visited Israel for one day, during which they were to visit possible sites in Jerusalem for the American Embassy.

The delegation of lawmakers was from the House Subcommittee for National Security, part of the House Oversight Committee. The lawmakers reportedly met Sunday morning with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials. They also reportedly had a briefing at the US. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and visited U.S. government properties in Jerusalem.

The delegation was led by subcommittee chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis, R- Fla. DeSantis told reporters Sunday evening that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to honor his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

DeSantis told Breitbart News in an interview on Sunday that he thought the U.S. consulate in the upscale Arnona neighborhood of southern Jerusalem would be a good place to house a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Great security, very big and nice facility, DeSantis told Breitbart. So, that is something that could potentially be a plug-and-play. Where you are literally just changing the sign to the U.S. Embassy. And that obviously depends on what the president wants to do. So, he could potentially do that.

Cuomo at Yad Vashem: No tolerance for acts of anti-Semitism

JERUSALEM (JTA)There will be no tolerance for these acts of anti-Semitism, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a weekend visit to Israel.

We must live by the rules that an abuse to one, an affront to one, is an affront to all, and that large fires start as small fires, and we will have zero tolerance for any abuse or discrimination of any fellow human being, Cuomo said Sunday during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In the United States now we have had a rash of anti-Semitism, over 100 acts of anti-Semitism, and I am sad to say also in my state, the state of New York. It is disgusting, it is reprehensible, it violates every tenet of the New York State tradition.

He added: To the people of Israel, I say that these acts of anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.

Cuomo continued: This trip has two purposes; number one, while some would weaken the relationship between the people of the State of New York and our Jewish brothers and sisters, the purpose of this trip is to strengthen those relationships through cultural exchange, through economic development partnerships, and well be working on them. The second purpose of this trip is Hineini, I am here, I have been here before, and I will be here again.

Cuomo last visited Israel in the wake of the 2014 Gaza War, also on a whirlwind 24-hour trip.

Rivlin thanked Cuomo for his visit and said, Your arrival to Israel at this time is an extremely important signal that the U.S. people and government will not let anti-Semitism win. On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express our appreciation for your visit and for the clear and powerful message you have sent.

Rivlin added: The same appreciation goes to President Trump, who condemned the recent attacks. And we are deeply touched by Vice President Pence who went and gave a handand a voicein fixing the broken gravestone. The fact that so many Christians and Muslims, came to aid the Jewish communities sends the clearest message against racism and hatred. It is a sign of great hope and civil courage.

Last month, Pence visited a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis and helped volunteers clean up the area.

Cuomo was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Sunday. The visit also was meant to bolster economic ties between Israel and New York State.

Israel upsets Korea in first game of World Baseball Classic

JERUSALEM (JTA)Team Israel defeated Korea in the first game of the World Baseball Classic.

Israel topped Korea 2-1 in the 10th inning on Monday in Seoul. Team Israel had 8 hits to Koreas 7 in the hard-fought game.

The Israeli team is scheduled to play the team from Chinese Taipei later on Monday, and the Netherlands on Wednesday.

This is the first year that the Israeli team has qualified for the quadrennial baseball tournament, in which 16 countries are represented. In 2012, Israels inaugural WBC team narrowly missed making the tournament.

The game marks the first time that American Jewish baseball players, including several current and former Major League Baseball players, are representing Israel in a world championship. World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that countrys team.

Israel is the only participant in this years tournament not currently among the top 20 in the world rankings. Israel is ranked 41st in the world.

The game was not broadcast on any of Israels major television channels or sports channels.

Ten current and former Jewish major leaguers representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic visited Israel in December.

In an article published on Sunday, ESPN described the Israeli team as the Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC.

Aleppo family claims to be Jewish, calls on Israel to help them

JERUSALEM (JTA)Members of a family in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo have called on Israel to help them leave the country, claiming Jewish heritage.

A recording of a woman calling for the assistance was broadcast Sunday morning on Army Radio.

The younger brother of the woman on the recording, who himself escaped over a year ago to London and identified as Salah, told Army Radio that his mother is Jewish and his father Muslim, and that he and his siblings had considered themselves Jewish growing up.

There is nobody who can help us to get out of this place, said his sister, 30, on the recording, where she is identified as Razan, though that is not her real name. We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country. I ask that the government demands from the entire world to do this. All my love and loyalty is to this religion (Judaism).

The Jewish Agency told Israeli media outlets that it was looking into the matter and would work to rescue the family if it is proven they are Jewish. Meanwhile, officials at the Jewish Agency told Army Radio that they had doubts about the familys Jewishness because people in similar positions have hidden their Jewish identity to avoid putting themselves in more danger.

Aleppos last remaining Jews were believed to have left the country with the help of the Jewish Agency in 2015.

Former U.S. envoy to Israel, Dan Shapiro, to join Israeli think tank

JERUSALEM (JTA)Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro will join a Tel Aviv-based think tank as a visiting fellow.

The Institute for National Security Studies announced the appointment on its website on Sunday.

Shapiro will participate in several of the institutes research programs, including those on Israel-U.S. relations, Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Arab world, and Israeli society and public opinion, according to the announcement. According to the think tank, he will study opportunities and make policy recommendations to strengthen the U.S.-Israel strategic, economic and societal partnership, and to preserve, expand and strengthen the common interests between the two states.

INSS Director Amos Yadlin said that Shapiro possesses keen insight, deep experience, and a broad network of relationships in Israel, the United States, and the Middle East.

Shapiro was appointed to his post by former President Barack Obama in July 2011. He resigned on Jan. 20, vacating the position for President Donald Trumps appointee, David Friedman.

Shapiro reportedly took the unusual step of asking the State Department for permission to stay in Israel as a private citizen so that his daughter could complete the school year. His daughter is in the 11th grade, a year that is heavy with Israeli matriculation exams

At the end of January, Shapiro wrote an article for Foreign Policy, in which he laid out a path for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a stated goal of the Trump administration.

Trump, Netanyahu discuss dangers of Iran deal in phone call

WASHINGTON (JTA)President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the Iran nuclear deal in a phone call.

Trump called Netanyahu on Monday and the two leaders discussed the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a statement from Netanyahus office.

The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran and by Irans malevolent behavior in the region and about the need to work together to counter those dangers, read the statement.

Netanyahu and Trump have both denounced the deal, which exchanges sanctions relief for a rollback of Irans nuclear program. But the U.S. president and other top officials have wavered in their commitment to undoing the agreement.

During the phone call, Netanyahu also thanked Trump for the warm hospitality during his visit to Washington last month and for condemning anti-Semitism during a joint address to Congress, according to the statement.

The White House statement reporting the call described the conversation in more general terms.

The two leaders discussed the need to counter continuing threats and challenges facing the Middle East region, it said. The Prime Minister thanked the President for his comments at the beginning of his speech before the Joint Session of Congress condemning anti-Semitism

Last Tuesday, Trump noted recent bomb threats on Jewish institutions and vandalism of cemeteries in his first address to a joint meeting of Congress.

Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last weeks shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms, Trump said.

Nearly 100 Jewish institutions have been targeted with bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The Kansas shooting occurred when a patron who was ejected from a bar after hurling racial epithets at two workers from India allegedly returned with a gun, killing one of the men and wounding the other.

Trump has come under fire for his delayed responses to the threats against Jewish institutions, deflecting questions about it before finally issuing a denunciation. The White House did not address the Kansas shooting until Tuesday, six days after the attack.

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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Unlikely squad of American Jews are helping Team Israel crush it in the 2017 World Baseball Classic – ABC News

An underdog team of mostly American Jews representing a county that many of them have never even visited is competing in a world baseball tournament with a fairy-tale winning streak worthy of a Hollywood movie.

Team Israel entered the 2017 World Baseball Classic as an unlikely squad. Out of the 16 nations represented in this years contest, Israel was the last to qualify and its the only participant not currently in the top 20 in the world rankings.

But the players, clad in blue and white uniforms embroidered with the Israeli flag and a Star of David, have taken the Classic by storm.

All 28 players on Team Israels roster are Jewish by heritage, if not by faith as well, but most are from the United States and only one is a native-born Israeli. A loophole within a loophole has made this Cinderella team possible.

The Classics heritage rule states that any player who qualifies for citizenship in a country is eligible to represent that nation in the quadrennial baseball tournament. And thanks to Israels Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse can become a citizen.

Similar laws in other countries allowed baseball players to switch sides. In previous years of the Classic, American players Mike Piazza represented Team Italy and Alex Rodriguez played for the Dominican Republic.

With support from The Mensch on the Bench mascot, Team Israel defeated South Korea, one of the best international baseball teams, in the Classics opening game at Seouls Gocheok Sky Dome earlier this week. It was a stunning loss in front of South Koreas massive home crowd.

First night was overwhelming. The atmosphere here and the intensity of the game from the very beginning was a lot to take in, Sam Fuld, a 35-year-old free agent outfielder from New Hampshire, told ABC News on Tuesday.

Team Israel currently has a 3-0 record in this years Classic. They will face Cuba on Sunday, the Netherlands on Monday and Japan on Wednesday. If they win two of those games, Israel has a shot at advancing to the semi-finals.

Israels team roster includes 20 Major League Baseball-affiliate minor leaguers. Its not an All-Star team — most of the players have day jobs and no one currently has a big league contract. But there are some prominent names, including 2009 All-Star pitcher Jason Marquis and first baseman Ike Davis, who played for the Yankees this summer. Both are eager to get back into the major league.

Were just a group of very hungry players, 38-year-old pitcher Shlomo Lipetz told ABC News on Friday. One of the nice things about being an underdog is people dont have expectations and people are just now starting to realize were maybe a better team than what they thought we were. So, that takes a lot of stress off the players.

Lipetz was born and raised in Israel, making him unique to the teams roster. His teammate and fellow pitcher Dean Kremer, who was born in the United States, is the only other Israeli citizen. Lipetz said they feel its their duty as Israelis to share their experiences with their teammates who are less familiar with the Jewish state, whether its speaking in Hebrew or telling a story in the locker room about playing ball in Tel Aviv.

Its so special for all the players. They feel this kind of connection being Jewish, this connection of playing for Israel, Lipetz said.

For the players on Team Israel, its more than just winning, Lipetz said. Its about inspiring Israelis to play the game and winning prize money to fund the development of baseball there. Theres less than 2,000 registered baseball players of all ages in the country and few baseball fields. Lipetz knows this firsthand.

Lipetz, a righty, grew up playing baseball in Tel Aviv on a field he said looked more like a dusty soccer field. After serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, he left to play college baseball in California. Hes the second native-born Israeli to play the game for an American college.

When Lipetz returned to Israel a few years later, the field he played on still didnt have a real mound. That lack of funding remains an issue today, he said.

Players still dont have uniforms or are lacking gloves, Lipetz told ABC News. We understand how significant the earnings will be for the baseball program in Israel.

When hes not pitching for the Israeli baseball team, Lipetz lives in Brooklyn and works as the vice president of programming at City Winery in Manhattan.

Lipetz didnt seem nervous about Sundays game against Cuba, which has produced some of the best players in the game and where baseball has long been a national obsession.

We were watching the game in the locker room this morning and we were kind of rooting for Cuba, he told ABC News. We think we have what we need to really win the Sunday game and hopefully beyond.

But no matter what, Lipetz said, Were going to have fun.

ABC News Joohee Cho, Jeff Costello, Malorie Cunningham, Catherine Mckenzie, Blair Shiff, Paul H.B. Shin and Justin Tasolides contributed to this report.

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Unlikely squad of American Jews are helping Team Israel crush it in the 2017 World Baseball Classic – ABC News

This Sephardi Jew sees preserving Ladino as ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Devin Naar says Ladino connects Jews with Latinos and Muslims, two communities he considers marginalized in Trumps America. (Meryl Schenker Photography/The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at Washington University)

(JTA) One-year-old Vidal doesnt know the significance behind the lullaby his father sings him at bedtime. He knows it helps him fall asleep, but notthat the Ladino song is part of an effort to teach himwhat served asthe lingua franca of Sephardi Jews of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years.

And he doesnt know that whenhe says his first words, he will join a shrinking cadre of Ladino speakers, most of them elderly, who hold the keys to a culture that is on the brink of extinction.

To lose a language is to lose a world, and were on the cusp of that,his father, Devin Naar, told JTA.

Naar, a professor of Sephardic studies at the University of Washington, is deeply passionate about preserving Ladino which is also known as Judeo-Spanish, Judezmo or Judio the language his grandfathers family spoke in their native Greece. By teaching Vidal Ladino, Naar hopes to fulfill a longtime dream of transmitting itslegacyto his son.

In recent months, theres something else at stake too. The 33-year-old Seattle resident sees the linguistic roots of Ladino, which include Hebrew, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic, as providing a way to connect Jews with Latinos and Muslims.Preserving Ladino is a specific political act of resistance in Trumps America, Naar said.

Its a language of linguistic fusion that is based in Spanish but really brings together a lot of other linguistic elements that I think give it a special resonance, especially in todays world, because it serves as bridge language between different cultures between Jewish culture, between Spanish culture and between the Muslim world, Naar said.

President Donald Trump has signed executive orders to builda wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to banimmigrants from some Muslim majority countries.

If Trump is interested in building a wall, Judezmo serves as a bridge, and I think that we need bridges such as this in our time, Naarsaid.

Naars grandfather came to the United States with most of his familyin 1924 from Salonica, Greece, in the midst of discriminatory measures being passed against Jews there. Family members left behind later perished inthe Holocaust, along with 95 percent of the citys Jews.

In the U.S., there were other difficulties. Naars grandfather heard anti-Semitic slurs and other insults from bigots who mistook him forSouth American or Middle Eastern.

Speaking Ladino serves as a method of reclaiming that heritage and activating that heritage not only for personal and family reasons but for political reasons, Naar said.

Devin Naars grandfather, far right, in Salonica, Greece, in the early 1920s, before they moved to the U.S. (Courtesy of Naar)

Ladino emerged following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, when the communitydispersed throughout the Ottoman Empire and came in contact with local languages as well as different Iberian dialects. At its height in the beginning of the 20th century, the languagehad abouthalf a million speakers, Naar estimated.

Estimates of current Ladino speakers vary widely, from between 160,000-300,000 people with some familiarity withthe language to around 50,000-100,000 speakers. Most of the population today is elderly, but there is renewedinterest in the language in some universities in the U.S. and Israel as well asamong Sephardi Jews.

Teaching VidalLadino has its challenges there is no complete English-Ladino dictionary and most speakers are older.Naarwas recently reading Vidal a childrens book about a dinosaur with slippery flippers and found himselfat a loss for how to translate that expression into Ladino. He consulted a scholar in Israel and a local Ladino speaker to get it right.

Its a learning process for me, both speaking to him and recognizing the limits of my vocabulary and trying to expand my vocabulary, Naarsaid.

But he isnt alone. Naar enlisted the help of a Seattle-basedgroup of elderly Ladino speakers, who translated Little Red Riding Hood into the language as a gift to Vidal. And his wife, Andrea, speaks to their sonin a mix of English, Spanish and Ladino.

Rachel Amado Bortnick, the founder of an online community for Ladino speakers, told JTA thatshe had only heard of one other casein the last decade of a child being taught to speak Ladino.

Theres no community that uses it daily its very challenging, to put it mildly, to actually pass on the language in the way that a person like me grew up in, said Bortnick, who learned Ladino as a child in her native Turkey.

Naars interest in the language goes back to his family history. He grew up hearing his grandfather and older relatives speak the language.

But by the time he started college in 2001, he had only learned a few words: greetings, curses, food-related words and liturgical passages. Questions from classmates about his last name, which did not sound like the Ashkenazi Jewish names they were familiar with, motivated him to dig deeper into his heritage.

He started studying Sephardi history and asked his grandfather to teach him Ladino.

A year later, Naar was able to read letters detailing the fate of family members who had perished in Auschwitz. The letters, written in Ladino by a family friend after World War II, had been tucked away in a closet, and some of Naars family members had been unaware of their existence and the details they provided ofthe deaths of family members.

The older generation, they couldnt believe it. They hadnt heard somebody speak like that in years, so that was very powerful for me, Naar said.

Now hes doing his part to pass the language on to the next generation and with it, a set of values.

One of my goals in trying to teach Vidal Ladino would be so that he has a sense of connection and awareness, not only of where he comes from, but also how the culture that he is connected to is connected to many other people, so that if he sees that immigrants in general or Spanish-speaking immigrants or Muslims in America are being maligned, I hope that he would be inspired to stand up.

Devin Naar is reading his son, Vidal, childrens books in Ladino as well as translating books from English into the language. (Courtesy of Naar)

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This Sephardi Jew sees preserving Ladino as ‘act of resistance’ against Trump – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Franzen: Remembering the darkness of the Holocaust – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Scotland Yard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating more than a hundred bomb threats made to Jewish groups in the United States and Britain since Jan. 7. Investigators said there is evidence that some of the U.S. and British bomb threats are linked. Waves of threats against U.S. Jewish groups – including community centers, schools, and offices of national organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League civil rights group – have been followed within hours by similar but smaller waves against Jewish organizations, mainly schools, in Britain. According to people in both countries who have listened to recordings of the threats, most of the them have been made over the telephone by men and women with American accents whose voices are distorted by electronic scramblers. Wochit

Melanie Steinhardt comforts Becca Richman at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, Feb. 26, in Philadelphia. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated.(Photo: DOMINICK REUTER, Getty Images)

Even as a kid, I devoured books on history. My interest was not that unusual for the time. I was born in the generation following the Second World War, and the centenary of the Civil War hit in 1961, fueling our fascination with what wekidsconsidered the more exciting parts of history.

World War II wasa favorite for the kids in my neighborhood; our fathers had fought it and we read about it and refought much of it (or thought we did) in the alleys and backyards around Grant Grade School and in the fields of Brookfield where my cousins lived.

What I didnt read about was the Holocaust.

As a German immigrantwhose father served in the German army on the Russian front and whose mother lived in what was then East Prussiaand who became a refugee at the end of the war, I didnt want to know. I was aware the Germans were the “bad guys,”but the horrors of the Holocaust trivialize that characterization, taking human evil to an entirely different level. That was a place I didnt want to go.

I didnt read Anne Franks diary or any survivor stories or ahistory of the Holocaust. I knew it had happened; I wasnt a denier. But I didnt want to know more. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t interested. Mentally, I pushed it away. I didnt want to think about it and what the facts might mean for my understanding of Germany and even of Germans I knew. Which is a pretty sad commentary.

That changed in my mid-20s when I finally read a book calledInto That Darkness by Gitta Sereny, detailing how the Nazis moved from mercy killing to mass murder. Im not sure what changed; maybe Id finally had enough of my cowardice. Then I read more: Elie Wiesel, Lucy Dawidowicz, Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning, Daniel Goldhagen. I studied and learned. And, yes, It was frightening.

And I talked to people I knew had been there. Turned out I knew people who had helped Jews, at not an inconsiderable risk to themselves. Maybe not as heroic as some others, but also not people who had turned their backs. Others said they had known nothing about it. Still others hinted that it may not have happened at all; they dismissed it as just wartime propaganda.

What does this mean? Maybe just that I finally became the student of history that I should have been all along. If we remember the past, we should remember all of it.

And this, too, maybe: Its important to know. Its important to remember. Not only for a better understanding of the past but for a better understanding of how it can happen.

Every pogrom, every purge, every atrocity, has a beginning. In Germany, there was a direct line from brown-shirted thugs demonstrating in the streets to burned-out synagogues to the gas chambers.

And the specter of that past is why I’m concerned now.

USA Today reported last week that through the first week of March, more than 100 incidents of anti-Jewish activity have been reported in 33 states, according to the Jewish Federations of North America. They include several waves of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in numerous states that have led to evacuations, three here at the JCC in Whitefish Bay. There has been desecration of dozens of headstones at historic Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and University City, Mo., near St. Louis and incidents of vandalism, such as a swastika carved onto the door frame of a 100-year-old synagogue in Lorain, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and slurs and swastikas drawn on cars and a building in suburban Buffalo. As a Journal Sentinel editorial noted last week, violence has been directed at other groups as well.

All 100 senators press Trump administration to help communities fight anti-Semitism

Editorial: Investigate ugly threats targeting Jewish centers

No, I dont think another Holocaust is right around the corner; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are not galloping toward us. There have been periods in American history worse than this for a whole slew of people deemed as inferior or just “others.”And although the current coarseness in politics may have emboldened the haters to come out of the shadows, I dont think that Donald Trump or any other politician is specifically to blame.

I do think, however, that it is not that far of a leap from a bomb threat or a swastika on a tombstone to a sniper and thats scary. My fear is not just for Jews but for Muslims and Sikhs and African-Americans and others targeted by a raw hatred aimed atthose who practice a different religion or who simply look different.

I think the worst thing to do is turn our backs and close our eyes. We cant say, as I once did, that we dont want to know.We must know. The knowledge of what happened can help us answer the ugliness of those who would if they could take us back to thosedark days.

So while law enforcement must pursue these terrorists, the rest of us can educate ourselves and talk about the past and the present whether that’s at dinner with friends or a chat over coffee or in our places of worship. We can read, and we can confront ugliness wherever we see it, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

When my daughter graduated from eighth grade, I gave her Elie Wiesels Night. She plans on giving it to her children.

Maybe thats a good place to start.

Ernst-Ulrich Franzen is the Journal Sentinels associate editorial page editor. Email: efranzen@jrn.com; Twitter: @efranzen1

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Franzen: Remembering the darkness of the Holocaust – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Antisemitism and Aliyah – Algemeiner

The French Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket chain was targeted in January 2015 by an Islamic terrorist, who killed four people. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Many people argue that antisemitism in Europe and other parts of the world should notmakeJews instinctively flee to Israel.

Butit is high time for Diaspora Jews to shake off their denial and confront the reality. They must acknowledge that all indicators predict that their situation is only going to worsen, and that in some cases a call for aliyah in the face of rising antisemitism is warranted.

Although the feverish increase in antisemitism is a global phenomenon, Jew-hatred in the United States, Canada and Australia is a far cry from what is happening in Europe and South Africa.

March 10, 2017 8:34 am

In the United States, amid bomb threats and cemetery desecrations, the principal menace comesfrom the combined far-Left and Muslim antisemites, along with some right-wing radicals. This activity is located primarily on university campuses, where Jewish students are increasingly intimidated.

Liberal AmericanJews, who failed to react to Barack Obamas vicious anti-Israel diplomatic onslaughts and played down the venom on campus, are now promoting a partisan political agenda by blaming President Donald Trump for the recent threats and desecrations.

But despite these tensions, aliyah from the United States in response to antisemitism is nonsensical. Thats because on the wholeAmericans are the least antisemitic people in the world.

But Europe is entirely different. Here, antisemitism directly impacts Jews, and is destroying their quality of life.

This does not suggest that Jews in Europe are facing imminent extermination. Israel is a safe haven, and will ensure that a second Holocaust does notoccur.

But the quality of Jewish life in Europe today does justify a call for mass emigration.

What sort of a life is it for a Jew when he is fearful to be seen in public with a kippah or any other outward manifestation of his Judaism?Or when schools, synagogues and otherlocations where Jews meet require military protection? Who could have dreamed of such a situation a mere 10 years ago?

Who would have envisaged that the finest universities in the UK and Europe would be transformed into platforms for anti-Israel and antisemitic activity, where Jewish students are harassed and denied freedom of expression?

Violent Islamic terrorism, including a home-grown variety, is also nowa daily threat to Europeans. The influx of refugees, many of whom are deeply embedded with antisemitism, has only accentuated this problem. Andwherever possible, European Islamic terrorists primarily target Jews.

While most governments pay lip service to the fight against antisemitism, popular hatred of Jews is growing and Israel is still being blamed as the source of Islamic extremism.

And while antisemitism is rife in the media and political arena,even the slightest criticism of Islamic extremism leads to accusations of Islamophobia and indictments of racism.

The situation is somewhat different in each country. Ironically, Eastern European countries are less hostile than their Western counterparts.Antisemitism is worst in France. In the UK,Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition party, can only be described as the left-wing equivalent of the late British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Corbyns friends and allies include Islamic terrorist supporters and outright antisemites.

Those who no longer care about their Jewishness assume a low profile and seek to discard their Jewish identity. In most cases, their children will no longer consider themselves Jews.

It is the remaining, committed Jews who face a quandary. Many of them live among fellow Jews and rarely face antisemitism directly. They live in denial and philosophically dismiss the hostility and the discrimination that their children endure.

But Jews should not be willing to live under such circumstances. There is no guarantee in any society that children will maintain the traditions of their parents. But in todays Europe, it is almost impossible to have any confidence about nurturing Jewish grandchildren who will retain and take pride in their heritage. For many, the odds of shedding their Jewish identity are very high.

The time has come to speak out clearly. Conditions for Jews in Europe will almost certainly worsen, even in countries like the UK. Jews who value their heritage and wish to see their children and grandchildren remain proud and committed Jews should make every effort to leave.

To emigrate is no easy challenge. Even allowing for the fact that Israel today has one of the most successful economies in the world, many middle-aged families may find it difficult to find meaningful employment. Most of them will therefore remain in Europe.

But they should at least encourage their children to settle in Israel. Thenext generation can and should be saved.

A version of this article was originallypublished byIsraelHayom and the Jerusalem Post.

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Antisemitism and Aliyah – Algemeiner

Poll: Hate on the rise in America, anti-Semitism more of a concern – wwlp.com

HAMDEN, Conn. (WWLP) A majority of voters say that there has been an increase in hatred and prejudice since the election of President Donald Trump. A new Quinnipiac University poll also found an increase in the number of Americans concerned about anti-Semitism.

In the nationwide poll of 1,323 voters, 63% said that the level of prejudice and hatred has increased in the United States since Trumps election. Thirty-two percent said that it has not changed, and 2% say that hatred and prejudice has decreased during that time. There is a big gap between how Democrats and Republicans feel on the question, with 84% of Democrats saying hatred is on the rise, compared to 62% of independents and 42% of Republicans.

Recent acts of vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other facilities have voters concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism. Thirty-five percent of voters say that prejudice against Jewish people is a very serious problem in the United States. Thirty-five percent said that it is somewhat serious, 19% said it is not so serious, and 10% said it is not at all serious. Those numbers have shifted significantly in just one month. In a Feburary 8 survey, only 13% of Americans viewed anti-Semitism as a very serious problem in the United States, with 29% saying it is not so serious of a problem.

President Trump is receiving mixed reviews for his response to the threats against the Jewish community. Thirty-seven percent of voters said that they approve of the presidents handling of the incidents, while 38% said they disapprove. A fairly large number of respondents, 25%, either do not have an opinion or did not answer the question.

The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 2.7 points.

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Poll: Hate on the rise in America, anti-Semitism more of a concern – wwlp.com

I’m A Progressive Mexican Jew. Is There Space For Me In J Street? – Forward

I was not very excited to go to Washington DC: recent news from the capital was bleak, to say the least, and the idea of spending my time visiting sites felt like treason. In this country ruled a man who called us rapists and who was building a wall to keep us outside. Sure, I was going to a conference on social justice, but I felt conflicted, nonetheless.

I was raised in a fairly progressive household in Mexico City. I attended middle school and high school at the American School Foundation. And, in many ways, I feel more connected to the progressive values of American Jews than to those of the Mexican-Jewish community.

Yet, when I find myself in progressive American-Jewish circles, like J Street, I feel my sense of agency reside. Jews in America make up half of the Jewish population worldwide. The global Jewish conversation takes place mostly between the Jews in this country and Israel (and, to a much smaller extent, Britain and France). Our 50,000-member community can only look up from a peripheral position at what is being said about Israel and the Jews in these countries only when theres a global crisis that involves us is there mention of us.

American Jews are a minority in the U.S. and they have participated in important struggles to defend other minorities: the Civil Rights Movement, for example, and most recently, against Trumps Muslim ban.

But even as a minority, they are empowered in ways than other Diaspora Jews are not. I dont want to diminish the fact that J Street came from the fringes, and that it has grown exponentially during the past nine years to become a powerful opposition force. But Ive always been impressed by the boldness with which American Jews talk, something I find in other Diaspora Jews who are afraid of anti-Semitic repercussions or who are just to marginalized to be considered as part of the conversation. In many cases, the American boldness also comes with total lack of awareness of the mere existence of a larger Diaspora.

At a J Street panel, a presenter said that American Jews feel, in many ways, more American than Jewish. These either/or identity statements are always shallow, yet there is a certain truth in the sense that they subscribe to a certain narrative of immigration and pluralism that plays a part in the larger U.S. story. This integration story is true: the speakers at J Street attested to the important role that Jews, once upon a time poor immigrants living in East Village tenements, now play in the liberal world: here was the world renowned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, talking with the executive vice-president of the Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk and of course, Bernie Sanders, a Jew from Brooklyn.

This Americanization of Jews has somehow normalized the Jewish experience. At the time of the conference, a Jewish cemetery was being desecrated, and schools were receiving bomb threats. Although there were constant references to Yitzhak Rabin who was murdered by a right-wing Jewish extremist there was no visible security around the conference, at all. I felt vulnerable, standing there, listening to the ambassador of the PLO give a powerful speech someone could come in at any minute and do something. Perhaps this was only my Jewish paranoia speaking, but this lack of security would be unthinkable at Jewish event in Europe, or even in Mexico.

Bringing Jews from the Diaspora to J street can help bring context to the particularity of the American Jewish situation. Yet there was only one panel in the conference dealing with the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora and, unfortunately, none of the panelists were from outside of the U.S. or the U.K. There was no one at the conference from France, which has a large Jewish community, and no panel about the anti-occupation Jewish movements taking place in other parts of the world.

J Street needs a global perspective. Jews from countries outside of the US have an important role to play not only in ending the occupation, but in providing those who oppose it in the United States and Israel with a wider network of support. These issues often intersect: there was a lot of talk of islamophobia J-Street, but no clear mention of how xenophobia affected other minorities. This, half a year after the Head of Mexicos Foreign Affairs asked the American Jewish community for advice in combating growing xenophobia against migrants. In these cases,J Street cannot afford to look the other way around.

In this context, Mexican Jews can be the natural bridge to grow relationships with institutions fighting against Trump. This is because progressive Jews in Mexico have a double stake in it: ending the occupation and fighting the bigotry of Trump. Yet other Diaspora Jews are similarly concerned with the rise of the far right. American Jews are not alone; we in the Diaspora have agency too. Use us.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

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I’m A Progressive Mexican Jew. Is There Space For Me In J Street? – Forward

‘ND hero story’: Film planned about Stern’s efforts to save Jews from Nazis – WDAZ

He was able to make his way to Casablanca and, after a long wait in a cramped apartment, boarded a Portuguese ship to the U.S., where his Jewish family was safe from the Holocaust that killed millions during World War II, including relatives who weren’t as lucky.

It was a life-saving trip made possible by Stern’s North Dakota uncle, Herman Stern, who was a prominent businessman and civic booster in Valley City, where he ran the Straus clothing store.

“If it wouldn’t be for Herman Stern, I wouldn’t be here today, and that’s the truth,” Michel Stern said in a new documentary, “The Mission of Herman Stern,” that will debut this fall.

Herman Stern, who died in 1980 at the age of 92, was posthumously awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award, North Dakota’s highest honor, in 2014. He was known by some as the “angel of the prairie” and was credited with quietly helping more than 125 Jews escape persecution in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1941.

Art Phillips, general manager of Video Arts Studios in Fargo, is the director and producer of the documentary. He said Herman Stern’s selfless efforts to help others is a story that deserves to be told on film.

“We just thought it was another untold story that should be told,” Phillips said. “It’s another North Dakota hero story.”

Stern was an active businessman who ran Straus men’s clothing stores and launched a winter show and the Greater North Dakota Chamber. But he kept quiet about his behind-the-scenes efforts to help Jews flee Nazi Germany.

“Grandpa didn’t like publicity,” said Rick Stern. “He thought it was bragging. He was very humble.”

Herman Stern immigrated at age 16 to North Dakota to work at the Straus Clothing Store in Casselton, which had been established by his cousin, Morris Straus. In 1910, he was named manager of the company’s store in Valley City.

After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, anti-Semitism grew virulent. At first, Stern dismissed the worries of physical harm to Jews as exaggerated, but soon became alarmed by the reports he got from relatives.

A worried niece wrote Stern to say she wanted to come to the U.S., and Stern helped her and one of her brother’s make the trip in 1934. He began urging his brothers to leave, and two brothers took his advice and assistance.

One of them, Gustav Stern, was Michel Stern’s father. It was the beginning of what turned out to be years of sustained efforts in sponsoring Jews, many of them distant relatives, to enable them to come to the U.S.

Stern tried to help as many as he could, pledging assets from his business, his personal savings and his home to comply with the U.S. State Department’s sponsorship requirements.

“He just kept bringing them in, bringing them in,” Phillips said.

Phillips started work on the documentary in 2015. “It’s a lot of research before any of the cameras start rolling,” he said.

It took some sleuthing to find people Stern had rescued, as he had never kept a list. Phillips started with the Stern family.

Early in the project, his team traveled to New York City to interview people Stern had helped to immigrate as children now elderly, all said they wouldn’t have lived without his help.

“It was real important that we get it done now,” Phillips said, noting the advanced age of the surviving refugees. “They were very gracious. I can’t thank them enough.”

Phillips also searched archives, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Barnes County Historical Society Museum in Valley City, the Herman Stern collection at the University of North Dakota and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.

“We’re getting resources from all over the place,” Phillips said.

Film footage and audio recordings of Herman Stern’s distinctive German accent also will be part of the documentary, as well as family photographs.

Terry Shoptaugh, a former archivist at Minnesota State University Moorhead, wrote a book about Stern and will be interviewed for the documentary, Phillips said. Lesson plans will be available as a study guide for middle school and high school students.

Phillips, who earlier made a documentary about the late Judge Ronald Davies and his decision to integrate schools in Little Rock, Ark., said Stern’s life story stands as a powerful example.

“He showed us that one person can truly make a difference in so many lives,” he said. “He was a remarkable man.”

How you can help

Those involved in the documentary film, “The Mission of Herman Stern,” still are raising money to finish the project. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at http://www.themissionofhermanstern.org.

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‘ND hero story’: Film planned about Stern’s efforts to save Jews from Nazis – WDAZ

More than a feeling: Jews and whiteness in Trump’s America – Mondoweiss

Delancey Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, circa 1908. (Photo: Department of Records)

A few weeks after the election, I had dinner at my grandparents house. I typically associate my visits to their home with raucous family gatherings of a cross-section of our grandparents six children and twenty-odd grandkids. But this was an unusually intimate settingjust my sibling and me across from them at their dining room table.

The relative silence refracted objects and half-memories in the way that only an old home can. The Magen David brooch around my grandmothers neck; the overflowing pile of kippot in the foyer, amassed from decades of Bnai Mitzvot; the ice bucket that has chilled four generations worth of cocktails. This is the desk where my father chipped a tooth, climbing to reach a misfired toy dart in his childhood bedroom. Here is the piano bench where his uncle, the World War II veteran turned wedding singer, taught him to play by ear. These are the wedding albums, full of awkward bar mitzvah photos, the elegant portraits of black-and-white elders wearing garb of the Old Country that perhaps is now gathering dust in my grandmothers attic.

My grandparents are of a generation that believes in security. They were teenagers during World War IIyoung enough that my grandfather avoided the draft, but old enough to acutely understand the terrors of the Holocaust. They married in 1948, the same year that the State of Israel was officially founded. They reference this fact not as a mere coincidence but as a statement of purpose. They have lived biblicallybeen fruitful and multipliedperhaps in deference to the 6 million European Jews who were taken from the face of the earth during their lifetime. They have an elaborate home alarm system, and let the radio stay on whenever they leave the house to deter possible house robbers. In my mind, these fragments all fit together to tell a single story.

Our conversation is dominated by politics. Over a pre-dinner nosh, my grandmother tells us that she knows Trump has the same heartbeat as Hitler. When I replay that scene in my mind, she clutches her brooch as she says it. Later, over plates of spaghetti and chicken cutlets, they tell us how they came to buy the house theyve inhabited for sixty-four years. Its a story that starts with my great-grandmothers birth in a Lower East Side tenement and ends with my grandparents choosing this Tudor-style house, after they learned a neighboring Long Island suburb wouldnt sell to Jews. Without saying so, I know this story is of the same thought as our conversation about Trump and the anti-Semitism of decades long past. I come to realize that this house, with its Brady Bunch doorbell and white Cadillac in the garage, is a symbol. The end point in a journey from tenements to vodka tonics. This is where my Jewish family truly became American. This is where they became white.

***

In recent years, my grandmother has voiced her concern that my generation doesnt understand what anti-Semitism is. But with Trumps administration reinvigorating the worst segments of the American political spectrum, I think thats one less thing she has to worry about. With this weeks vandalization of a St. Louis Jewish cemetery, a targeted campaign from neo-Nazi website Stormfront attempting to terrorize a Montana Jewish community, and 69bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers over the past two months alone, American anti-Semitism is becoming visible in ways I have never seen in my lifetime. Coupled with the Trump administrations toxic combination of known anti-Semites and right-wing Jews, resurgent anti-Semitism is challenging the existing political and analytical frameworks of our movements.

The contentious times have rekindled an old question: are Jews white? Unsurprisingly, the conversation has centered white Ashkenazi Jews, continuing to erase the experiences and raised stakes for Jewish people of color living under both anti-Semitism and white supremacy. A partial consequence of that erasure is that the question is typically framed less as, Are Jews white? but more as, Do white Jews still feel white? But white, as people of color know, denotes more than merely a feeling of safety, of security, of belonging. It is more than an invisible knapsack; whiteness is a legal and political construct, one created and perpetuated to serve the institution of white supremacy.

The conversation thus far has given primacy to a particular brand of white nationalism: the type of neo-Nazi ideology in which the most violent anti-Semitism tends to be found. From Richard Spencers alt-right movement to the American eugenics movement of the 1920s, its clear that white Jews have no place in neo-Nazis imagined white America. But grounding our understanding of whiteness in neo-Nazi ideology belies the fact that white nationalism isnt just the domain of the alt-right fringe; it is the guiding logic of our nations narrative. And it is in the context of this American political project that European Jews like my grandparents have been invited to share in the institution of whiteness.

In his brilliant essay On Being White and Other Lies, James Baldwin writes that no one was white before they came to America. So how, and when, did America make European Jews white? Most theorizing around Jews and whiteness, as in Karen Brodkins excellent How Jews Became White Folks And What That Says About Race in America, locates the post-WWII erawhen my grandparents moved from the Bronx to the Tudor houseas the moment of European Jews acceptance into whiteness. While it is true that era represents a turning point in the social status of European Jews, in order to understand the broader history of American race-making, we need to look at the original institution that necessitated whiteness as a legal category: slavery.

The legal distinctions between white-skinned masters and black-skinned slaves was central in converting European immigrants into white people. And where European Jews were concerned, there was no question as to which camp they fell into. The 1705 Virginia Slave Codes was one of the first laws to distinguish white indentured servants from black slaves on the basis of race, granting white servants the right to testify in court and own slaves and property. The law had religious dimensions, too: Jewish and Muslim infidels were allowed to own Native and African-descended slaves, but they were prohibited from having white Christian servants. The intermingling of racial and religious discrimination is noteworthy: the central function of the Slave Codes was to create a Black and Native underclass whom European Jews were granted access to exploit.

Beyond the right to slave-ownership, access to citizenship has historically been another privilege contingent on being seen as white in the eyes of the law. The 1790 Naturalization Act restricted the right of naturalization to free white persons, a right that was extended to persons of African descent in 1870. But while East and South Asian migrants were legally deemed aliens ineligible for citizenship, European Jews were never barred from naturalizing as free white persons. Even when Japanese and Indian plaintiffs brought their arguments to the Supreme Court (Ozawa v. United States, 1922 and Thind v. United States, 1923), the court doubled down on its definition of white, ruling that the words white person were meant to indicate only a person of what is popularly known as the Caucasian race.

Even in the 1920s, during the height of the eugenics movement that pseudo-scientifically broke down the Caucasian race into Aryan, Mediterranean, and Alpine subtypes (as in Madison Grants influential Passing of the Great Racenot coincidentally a book that Adolf Hitler would later refer to as my bible), European Jews were positioned firmly within the Caucasian category. While strict anti-miscegenation laws such as Virginias 1924 Racial Integrity Act solidified the one-drop rule, mandating that white only apply to the person who has no trace whatsoever of any blood but Caucasian, and forbade individuals classified as white from marrying any non-white person, there is no mention of forbidding intermarriage of European Jews and other Caucasians. Even as explicitly anti-Semitic immigration laws were implemented to curtail the flow of Jews from Eastern Europe, the pseudo-scientific and legal definitions of white continued to include European Jews like the black-and-white forebears on my grandparents mantle.

My point is not to deny the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in past and present America, nor to erase the specific mechanisms of anti-Semitism in Europe, but to urge an analysis of anti-Semitism as complementary, but not foundational, to American white supremacy. Only when we recognize the founding American logics of slavery, genocide, and Orientalism can we make sense of the ways that anti-Semitism has been used to absorb critiques of capitalism, to make the face of capitalist exploitation the Jewish banker rather than the predominantly white, Christian, male politicians who cut deals with Wall Street over Main Street. Only when we recognize the hurdles that both anti-Semitism and white supremacy play towards achieving a true economic populism can we defang the fearsome, genocidal ideologies that move those in the European Jewish diaspora to pledge never again.

***

To draw from Baldwin once again, being white is a moral choice (for thereare no white people). And European Jews, he writes, have paid the highest price for becoming white.

In the short time since Trumps election, too many leaders of the institutional Jewish community have made the immoral choice: to align with the new administration, to sacrifice whatever Jewish values were still intact in exchange for a supposed seat at the table. We have watched the Jewish Federations of North America, representing over 300 Jewish organizations,refuse to denounce Trumps appointment of Steve Bannon, under whose leadership Breitbart flourished as the news source of choice for racists, Islamophobes, and anti-Semites. We have seen the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations host their annual Chanukah party at a Trump Hotel, despite protests from some of their member organizations. And we have seen a political push for a federal anti-Semitism bill designed not to fight the rise of neo-Nazism, but to curtail critique of Israel.

These leaders have made the moral choice to sell their souls to whiteness rather than stand alongside other communities facing the hatred and vitriol of the incoming administration and its allies. Their choices, to put right-wing Zionism over the moral calls of justice, will not make American Jewish communities safer. Only deep solidarity with communities of color, including those within our Jewish communities, can build the political movement necessary to defeat white supremacy. In aligning with the Trump administration that 76% of Jewish voters voted to condemn, they risk losing their legitimacy as self-appointed representatives of our communities. That is a wedge we will continue to push.

Lets not ask if European Jews are white. The more urgent question is: what price have they paid in colluding with whiteness? The price of heritage, of language, and of culture? Or the price of dignity, of accountability, of moral authority? Far from giving white Jews a free pass on confronting their own white privilege, I hope that answering this question might just lead more of our Jewish communities towards truly joining the multiracial, multi-faith fight against white supremacy.

* * *

The entryway to my grandparents house is adorned with family ephemera: Mothers day cards and birthday messages; a matzo man cutout I made in Hebrew elementary school; unflattering portraits scrawled by kindergarten grandchildren. But recently, there has been a new addition: a photograph of me, their grandson, being placed under arrest in a Jewish Black Lives Matter protest, part of a civil disobedience led by seven Jewish people of color, myself included. In the background of the photo, a protester blows a shofar, the rams horna call for renewal, repentance, for justice.

I didnt expect them to put up the photo when I emailed them about the protest last summer. But there it was, taped conspicuously to the front door, when I arrived for Rosh Hashanah 5777. Fittingly, its a year the Jewish left is calling the year of Jewish Resistance.

Baldwin is right. There are no white people, only those who choose to collude with whiteness. I take heart in the fact that the moral choiceto acknowledge white privilege while working to dismantle the system that confers itremains open.

This article was originally published on Unruly, a racial justice blog by the Jews of Color Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace.

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More than a feeling: Jews and whiteness in Trump’s America – Mondoweiss

Opposition MKs blame Trump and Israel in debate on US antisemitism – Jerusalem Post Israel News

LIKUD MK Avraham Neguise, seated next to Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova, presides over a meeting hosted by the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee.. (photo credit:Courtesy)

A discussion about the rise of antisemitic incidents in the US held at the Knesset on Tuesday became heated after opposition MKs pointed fingers at both the US and Israeli leadership.

Speaking at the meeting hosted by the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, MK Dov Henin (Joint List) accused US President Donald Trump of antisemitism.

The elephant in the room is the president of the United States and the team around him, Henin said, recalling recent comments made by Trump that bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions in recent weeks could be false flags designed to make others look bad.

I dont remember a US administration ever speaking in this way. Its a dangerous phenomenon of right-wing nostalgia for fascism, he said, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is supporting antisemitic Trump.

Committee chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud) was quick to denounce and distance himself from Henins remarks, saying they do not reflect the committees stance. He later released a statement saying that the aim of the meeting had been to discuss the issue with US representatives and to find solutions to eradicate the phenomenon of growing antisemitism in the US.

Unfortunately, the opposition MKs politically exploited a subject of consensus, Neguise said, adding that he fears it could have caused diplomatic damage to the best friendship Israel has.

The chairman also indicated that MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) was using the debate to further her own political agenda after she accused Israel of turning a blind eye to the role it plays in the rise of new antisemitism a term used to describe antisemitism disguised as anti-Israel critique.

Pointing to bill passed in the Knesset the night before that will bar people who support the boycott of Israel from entering the country, Zandberg slammed the law as political censorship of those who criticize the settlements, saying that legislation of this kind only provides further ammunition to movements such as BDS. We should not confuse antisemitism and criticism of the occupation, of which there are many opponents in Israel and the world, she said.

The state of Israel was established so that we would be a majority and not a persecuted minority, she continued, adding that the connection between the inauguration of Trump, who managed a campaign of xenophobia, and the situation in the US today should not be ignored. The political alliance with the US government is leading to a blind eye on the part of the Israeli government, she stated.

MK Yael Cohen Paran (Zionist Union) defended Zandberg following Neguises accusation that she was taking the discussion in a political direction saying that looking at Israels role is part and parcel of the issue.

There is a link… there is double the amount of new antisemitism and we also need to look at what is happening here to say we have no connection to it is just not right, she said, adding that such an approach only diminishes Israels ability to deal with the situation. If we dont deal with this question, it will come to us from outside, she said.

Conversely, MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) purported that loud Jewish criticism of the US president contributes to antisemitism. MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) retorted that those who do not understand the connection between Trumps rise and the rise of antisemitism are disconnected from reality.

To be a Jew is to fight injustice, social injustice and racism everywhere. I am proud of the Jews in the US, who even in times of crisis fight all of these, even when they are not being targeted, she added.

Meanwhile, Oded Ben-Hur, senior diplomatic adviser to the Knesset, said religion is at the root of antisemitism.

The disease is not likely to disappear from our view in the near future, he said. We are the victims, and we do not need to lead the fight against antisemitism.

A key solution is to ensure that heads of states and parliaments pass legislation against antisemitism and, most importantly, that there is education against antisemitism in every country, Ben-Hur said.

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Opposition MKs blame Trump and Israel in debate on US antisemitism – Jerusalem Post Israel News