Looking forward: A religious time bomb waiting to happen in the USA. A wave of antisemitic fervour is developing.

Opinion

“Scum remains scum, and antisemitism is the ideology of the scum. It is a horrible epidemic like cholera, which can neither be explained nor cured ” 

Theodor Mommsen, 1881 (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1902)

by Alan Simons

A religious backlash of massive proportion against the Jews in the USA is, in my opinion, on the brink of happening. The 2017 flood devastation in Texas will look insignificant to what America’s vibrant Jewish community might fear. There will be nowhere to run and the backlash against Jews, by the very nature of the Trumptwit racist toxic virus, will spread to many corners of the world. Racists of all kinds will feast on delivering the message. There will be no end in sight to the wanton destruction of all things that Jews bravely have stood up and fought against, including: antisemitism, hate, bigotry and intolerance. The Jewish respect for family values and life will have a different meaning to the racists in our society.

One could say the wave of destruction all started on November 26, 2016, when Wayne Allyn Root wrote on the Fox News Internet site:

“I believe Donald Trump should be called “America’s first Jewish president.” I should know. I’m an Ivy League-educated Jewish kid from New York. Trust me, Donald Trump is as close as you can come to being our first Jewish president. The very unique traits that have made him a billionaire and now President of the United States are as Jewish as you can get!”

One could say the wave of destruction continued on January 26, 2017, when  Josefin Dolsten wrote, under the headline, “Meet the Jews in Donald Trump’s administration,” on the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website:

“American Jews are watching the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency with both fear and hope. 

“Many have expressed worries about some of his supporters’ ties to the so-called “alt-right” movement, whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for ‘political correctness.'”

hate (2)One could say the wave of destruction continued on February 23, 2017, when Lola Adesioye wrote, under the headline, “The rise of anti-Semitism in Donald Trump’s America,” in Britain’s New Statesman:

 “Anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in America. Since January alone, there have been 67 bomb threats against Jewish Community Centres in around 27 states around the country. On Monday, a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri was desecrated, with over 100 headstones overturned. There has been a large increase in online anti-Semitic threats and hate speechSwastikas have been spray painted on the streets of New York.”

One could say the wave of destruction continued on April 9, 2017, when Ben Schreckinger wrote, under the headline, “The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin,” (referring to Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir), in Politico Magazine:

 Two decades ago, as the Russian president set about consolidating power on one side of the world, he embarked on a project to supplant his country’s existing Jewish civil society and replace it with a parallel structure loyal to him. On the other side of the world, the brash Manhattan developer [Trump] was working to get a piece of the massive flows of capital that were fleeing the former Soviet Union in search of stable assets in the West, especially real estate, and seeking partners in New York with ties to the region…

“A few years later, Trump would seek out Russian projects and capital by joining forces with a partnership called Bayrock-Sapir, led by Soviet emigres Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir—who maintain close ties to Chabad. The company’s ventures would lead to multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and a criminal investigation of a condo project in Manhattan.”

In addition, names such as those below have been flawlessly banded about. I note, even though their specific roles may have changed since being appointed, there is one similarity of the people mentioned. They are all Jews.

Boris Epshteyn  a Russian-born American Republican political strategist, investment banker, and attorney,  was a senior advisor to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for President. He defended Trump on major TV networks over 100 times, according to The New York Times. TV hosts have described Epshteyn, who moved to the United States from his native Moscow in 1993, as “very combative” and “abrasive.” In 2014, he was charged with misdemeanor assault after being involved in a bar tussle. The charge was dropped after Epshteyn agreed to undergo anger management training and perform community service.

Michael Dean Cohen, an American attorney a spokesperson for Trump. 

David Friedman, a bankruptcy expert and longtime Trump attorney and currently the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Jason Greenblatt, working as special representative for international negotiations focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Stephen Miller, played a crucial role in Trump’s campaign by writing speeches.

Carl Icahn, a businessman and investor,  serving as a special adviser on regulatory reform issues. Icahn is a major giver to Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, among other philanthropic endeavors. In 2012, he donated $200 million to the renamed Icahn School of Medicine there.

Dr. David Shulkin, the undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, 

Reed Cordish, who is friends with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, serves as assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives. Cordish is a partner at his family’s real estate and entertainment firm, the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies. 

Avrahm Berkowitz, 27, a special assistant to Trump and assistant to Jared Kushner. 

Gary Cohn,  heads the White House National Economic Council. 

Steven Mnuchin. Trump picked Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who worked as Trump’s national finance chairman during the campaign, to serve as Treasury secretary.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s Orthodox son-in law is serving as a senior adviser to the president. 

Jay Sekulow, a self-described Messianic Jew, a member of President Trump’s legal team, repeatedly said on four television shows June 18 that Trump isn’t under investigation by the special counsel.

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is playing a strange dual role in a turbulent White House, the New York Times reported.

In the Jewish diaspora world there is an undercurrent of uneasiness in reading these articles and names. Whilst not openly talking about it, one senses from the diaspora these articles have helped to stimulate racist activity, resulting in a need for silent Jewish preparedness leading to the resignation and belief the future for the family is no longer in their country of birth.

But, what is the alternative? Can Jews rely on the support of their Christian and non-Christian neighbours? Do Jewish organisations in their community have an exit plan? Will these same Jewish organisations, who for now have been so devoutly focused on Israel, have the clout to also be there for ordinary Jews? 

In my opinion, for many years Jewish communities floundered in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, that were not only communicated to death, but offended and pushed non-Jews away from them. 

Frank Luntz, the US-based political and business pollster, once said: “Non-Jews do not want to hear our complaints. They want to know our solutions.”  Jews living in North America still don’t have a clue or give a monkey’s ass as to what Luntz was talking about.

As I see it, for the most part, the vast majority of diaspora Jews and Jewish institutions continue to make sure their messages do everything to conceivably extricate a dialogue with non-Jewish communities.

The Trumptwit racist toxic virus thrives on these weaknesses. It is a weakness that today many Jewish communities in general seem to be unable to cope with, or want to accept.

Alan Simons is the publisher of jewishinfoNews.

The above content was compiled from numerous sources. No copyright infringement was intended.

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“Charlottesville: A renewed call for moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.”

OPINION

The following article and photos, which originally appeared in The Times of Israel on August 14, 2017, is republished in its entirety in jewishinfoNews with kind permission of its author Belle Jarniewski.

Belle Jarniewski

Several months ago, in the lead up to the American election, I found myself at an interfaith conference in Montreal. Susannah Heschel addressed the audience. Her powerful words, which seemed to be a clarion call, seem all the more important after Charlottesville. Heschel reminded us that the root of the Hebrew word alimut — violence is alef lamed mem — meaning elem “silence.” She asked us how we could dare abandon God to these fanatics — and certainly the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, KKK supporters and all the alt-right haters who have sprung up like poisonous mushrooms are indeed fanatics. With our silence, we allow violence and fanatics to proliferate. And finally, Heschel excoriated us…in particular “us” meaning liberal Jews, for having become “so insipid.”

Mordechai_liebling

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

We can be proud that rabbis such as Mordechai Liebling and other Jewish clergy and rabbinical students did not remain silent. They traveled to Charlottesville to take part in the counter-rally and spoke out. Some Jewish organizations have spoken out as well. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the rally and called on US leaders to denounce anti-Semitism.

Liebling’s voice was in support of something broader: “It’s really important for Jews to be visible in this space and stand up for love and for God and for democracy… it is important to make sure that each of is us is treated as we are in the image of God.” Like Susannah Heschel’s late father, Civil Rights activist, Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory, Liebling was referring to the rights of all Americans.

But where are the voices of the rest America’s faith leaders? And what of faith leaders in Canada and the rest of the world? As a Canadian, I am all too aware that my country is not immune from the venomous hatred of white supremacists. The US Catholic bishops have spoken out in very clear terms condemning the rising tide of racism that resulted in the ugly rally. But where are the voices of the liberal Protestant social gospel tradition that have so easily found the words to criticize Israel over the complexity of the last 50 years in the West Bank?

A recent article in “The Atlantic” reveals that some faith leaders belonging to this group have been crystal clear in their condemnation, connecting white supremacy and asking their followers to rebuke it “in the name of Jesus.” Others have been oddly vague, if not veering on tepid. They speak of hope and love without condemning the hate. While some Evangelical pastors have not even mentioned the words “racism” or “white supremacy,” others (the Southern Baptists) have referred to the alt-right white-supremacist ideologies as “the anti-Christ and satanic to the core.” No mention of a response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) was included in the article.But where are the voices of the rest America’s faith leaders? And what of faith leaders in Canada and the rest of the world? As a Canadian, I am all too aware that my country is not immune from the venomous hatred of white supremacists. The US Catholic bishops have spoken out in very clear terms condemning the rising tide of racism that resulted in the ugly rally. But where are the voices of the liberal Protestant social gospel tradition that have so easily found the words to criticize Israel over the complexity of the last 50 years in the West Bank?

The “Atlantic” article referred only to Christian voices. It is essential that leaders of all faiths — Jewish (of all denominations) Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i, Sikh and Indigenous speak out. Make no mistake. We cannot afford to be insipid, nor can we abandon God with our silence. Don’t wait for miracles. The responsibility to speak out and to act is ours.

2015-01-17-HeschelandKingatSelma-thumb

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel at Selma (front row second from right)

In 1963, when President Kennedy invited Abraham Joshua Heschel to the White House, he sent the following telegram: “Please demand of religious leaders personal involvement, not just solemn declaration. We forfeit the right to worship God as long as we continue to humiliate Negroes. Church and synagogue have failed. They must repent. Ask of religious leaders to call for national repentance and personal sacrifice … The hour calls for moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.”

That hour is once again upon us. It is time for all faith leaders to speak out strongly unified by a call to action. A renewed call for repentance and personal sacrifice. A renewed call for moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.

Belle Jarniewski has chaired the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada since 2008. Since 2013, she has served on the federally appointed delegation to IHRA—the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. She is also the current President of the Board of Directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council. 

Fighting the good fight. Has it left the Jewish Community?

“Diaspora Jews. I have a sense we just don’t care anymore!”

by Alan Simons

Why is it, I wonder, Diaspora Jews are willing to show as a group how philanthropic and ardent they are towards raising funds and giving their time and support towards non-Jewish distresses, such as the Rwandan Tutsi, the people of South Sudan, the ethnic rights of minorities in Burma, Canada’s First Nations, and currently Syrian refugees? Yet, as individuals, why do we continue to be uncomfortable to willingly expose ourselves, to open our arms favourably, towards Christian, Muslim and other individuals? Why do many in the Diaspora treat non-Jews with utmost suspicion?

Yes, our long standard tradition of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chassadim (acts of lovingkindness) are renown and respected by non-Jews. But more and more these days we repetitively remain on the sidelines in showing support to those who fight the good fight.

JIN RCMP dThis past Sunday I had the honour of being invited to the inaugural 2017 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)/IDI GTA Intercultural Ramadan Friendship Dinner. Organised by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA., the event was held at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

To put the importance of this Canadian event into perspective, the RCMPs media advisory reported:

“This occasion demonstrated a gesture of mutual respect and partnership between community and law enforcement.

In attendance were the Chiefs of Police and dignitaries from Government offices. This occasion also included Canada’s 150 year celebration.

The IDI has been working closely with the RCMP and policing partners in the Greater Toronto Area to promote social cohesion, personal interaction, respect and mutual understanding among people through dialogue and partnership. The RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team – Public Engagement Unit has been very active in developing trusting relationships in the community to improve engagement and implement community programs.

‘What an incredible opportunity for us to interact with so many from the diverse communities we support,’ said Superintendent Lise Crouch, Assistant Criminal Operations Officer for National Security. ‘It is events such as this one that continues to remove barriers for our police officers. The police are members of so many communities and contribute both on and off duty. This friendship dinner highlights the strength in collaboration and respect.’ ”

JIN RCMP cOut of the countless hundreds attending from many faiths and cultures, I would hazard a guess there were no more than four Jews present, and certainly, no rabbi found the time to join the clergy from other faiths.

To my mind, I regard in the eyes of the Diaspora, this to be one further example of how the Jewish community has become more entrenched in its attitude of “us” and “them” and less willing as individuals to show where they stand on issues relating to interfaith/cultural (call it what you will) dialogue at the grass roots level.

What a missed opportunity to support those who are attempting to fight the good fight. As Elie Wiesel once said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Diaspora Jews, take heed! Mutual respect and partnership are an integral part of our very being. I have a sense we just don’t care anymore!

(Photo credit: RCMP)

Alan Simons can be reached at alan@alansimons.info

COMMENTS

“I could not agree more, Alan Simons. Well said. Same issues here in Winnipeg. Proud of our Muslim Jewish Interfaith dialogue group, but we are not representative of the attitude of the “institutional Jewish community.” It’s more than just caring, Alan, it is massive ignorance about each other. We might be willing to donate a little money to make ourselves feel better but most Jews know nothing about Islam or Christianity and frankly harbour some horribly incorrect notions, yet purport to “know the truth.” However, other cities are doing better – Calgary for instance because of the example of true leadership by strong clergy in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. The recent recognition by King Abdullah of Jordan reflects their exemplary achievement.”

-Belle Jarniewski, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada