“Spicer’s Mistake and the Democrat’s Over-Reaction”

OPINION

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article was originally published by Gatestone Institute  and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on April 13, 2017.

“The fight against bigotry is a bi-partisan issue and must not be exploited for partisan gain… All sides must stop using references to Hitler and the Holocaust in political dialogue.”

Alan Dershowitz credit jewishbusinessnews JIN July 13 2016

by  Alan M. Dershowitz

Sean Spicer made a serious mistake when he compared Bashar Al-Assad to Hitler, and to make matters worse, he got his facts wrong. He quickly and fully apologized. There was no hint of anti-Semitism in his historical mistake and his apology should have ended the matter. But his political enemies decided to exploit his mistake by pandering to Jews. In doing so, it is they who are exploiting the memory of the six million during the Passover Holiday.

The Democratic National Committee issued a rebuke with the headline “We will not stand for anti-Semitism.” Its content included the following: “Denying the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime is a tried and true tactic used by Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups that have become emboldened since Donald Trump first announced his campaign for president.” By placing Hitler and Trump in the same sentence, the DNC committed a mistake similar to that for which they justly criticized Spicer. Moreover, the DNC itself, is co-chaired by a man who for many years did “stand for anti-Semitism” — namely Keith Ellison who stood by the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, while denying that he was aware of Farrakhan’s very public Jew-hatred. It is the epitome of Chutzpah for the DNC to falsely accuse Spicer of standing by anti-Semitism while it is they who are co-chaired by a man who committed that sin.

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority leaders, falsely accused Spicer of “downplaying the horror of the Holocaust.” But by leveling that false accusation, Pelosi herself is exploiting the tragedy.

Steven Goldstein, a hard-left radical who heads a phony organization that calls itself “The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect,” accused Spicer of “engage[ing] in Holocaust denial.” He called Spicer’s mistake a “most evil slur” against the Jewish people. Goldstein claims to speak for the Jewish people, but he represents only himself and a few handfuls of radical followers who are not in any way representative of the mainstream Jewish community. He repeatedly exploits the Holocaust in order to gain publicity for him and his tiny group of followers. Shame on them!

These over the top reactions to a historical mistake made by Spicer that was not motivated by anti-Semitism represents political exploitation of the Holocaust. Spicer was wrong in seeking to bolster his argument against Assad by referring to Hitler, and his political opponents are wrong in exploiting the tragedy of the Holocaust to score partisan points against him.

The difference is that Spicer gaffe was not in any way pre-meditated, whereas the exploitation by his enemies was carefully calculated for political gain. All sides must stop using references to Hitler and the Holocaust in political dialogue. Historical analogies are by their nature generally flawed. Analogies to the Holocaust are always misguided, and often offensive, even if not so intended.

On CNN the other night, Don Lemon asked me if I was “offended as a Jew” by what Spicer had said. The truth is that I was offended as someone who cares about historical accuracy by Spicer’s apparent lack of knowledge regarding the Nazi’s use of chemicals such as Zyklon B to murder Jews during the Holocaust. But it never occurred to me that Spicer’s misstatements were motivated by anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial or an intent to “slur” the Jewish people. Nor do I believe that those who have accused him of such evil motivations actually believe it. They deliberately attributed an evil motive to him in order to pander to Jewish listeners. That offends me more than anything Spicer did.

Extreme right wing anti-Semitism continues to be a problem in many parts of Europe and among a relatively small group of “alt-right” Americans. But hard left and Muslim extremist anti-Semitism is a far greater problem in America today, especially on university campuses. So those of us who hate all forms of anti-Semitism and bigotry, regardless of its source, must fight this evil on a non-partisan basis. We must get our priorities straight, focusing on the greatest dangers regardless of whether they come from the right or the left, from Republicans or Democrats. The fight against bigotry is a bi-partisan issue and must not be exploited for partisan gain.

Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School has been described by Newsweek as “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights.” Professor Dershowitz’s writings have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Russian, and other languages.

Rwanda: 7 April 2017. Never Again!

Four words:

Duhore Tuzilikana Kirazira Kwibagirwa!

We Must Never Forget!

Today, 7 April 2017 is the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. 

by Alan Simons

In a few weeks time, on 23 April at sundown, Jews throughout the world observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the day where we pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust and ghetto uprisings. Inaugurated 64 years ago we like you, have no intention of forgetting our loved ones. Therefore, as a Jew, my message to you is not from a stranger, but from a brother and partner. For in commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, your loss, is also my loss.

However, I ask myself what right do I have to speak of such experiences of genocide?

Who am I to speak of such unthinkable acts of violence and cruelty, unequaled in modern history?

I never witnessed killings, or had my life threatened. I never lost immediate family members, nor witnessed rape or sexual mutilation, or had to hide under corpses.

Rwanda April 7 2017 bSo, what authority gives me the right to speak about Rwanda’s genocide, to talk about your families and friends who perhaps survived these 23 years, and hopefully, I repeat hopefully, have been able to overcome their traumatic experiences and find optimism in the future, as well as speak of those who were murdered?

Well, a few years ago President Kagame of Rwanda, photographed above, said: “The world chose to watch as one million were being slaughtered. Victims were turned into perpetrators and justice was turned into a political tool. The world has shown us that we cannot afford not to fight. Do not be afraid to stand up for truth, justice and for who we are. The only way to live in this world is to stand up for ourselves, stay true to who we are and define our own destiny.”

Perhaps, more than anything, it is in these words that binds Jews and Rwandans together in a mutual understanding of what intolerance and hate is all about in our society today. And, we have only to look at the past few weeks of what happened in London, a few hours ago in Stockholm, as well as the gassing earlier this week of children and adults in Syria, to appreciate the scope and threat of the world we continue to live in.

Hate is hate, irrespective of one’s religion, colour or nationality.

Even now in Canada there are deniers of both the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust who continue to thrust their sick fermented ideas into the international arena. As Hitler remains centre stage to many antisemites, it was only a couple of months ago that Rwanda’s deniers actually competed to question who was to blame for the 1994 killings. 

It’s been said that sadness is but a wall between two gardens. May all of those who perished in the genocide be remembered for their beauty and fragrance that grace our gardens.

My dear Rwandan brothers and sisters, finding an appropriate way of honouring and remembering the dead is one of the goals of the mourning process. For, as Elie Wiesel the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

(Photo credits: From Paul Kagame’s Post, in Timeline Photos)

 

Do young Jews lack the ability to communicate?

Opinion

“For the most part, sadly they see themselves not as proud Canadian Jews, but Jews who live in Canada.”

by Alan Simons

On March 20, 2017, B’nai Brith Canada filed a complaint with Montreal police regarding a sermon made by Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr at the Dar al-Arqam mosque in Montreal. This Imam in a homily, delivered on Dec. 23, 2016, described Jews as “the most evil of mankind” and “human demons,” and quoted a passage from the hadith that calls for killing Jews.

The complaint was followed-up by an article in the Toronto Sun by Lorrie Goldstein, their Acting Comment Editor. Goldstein, in essence said:

“… yet another video that it says shows an imam in Canada preaching violence against Jews, I have to ask: What is it with you people?”

He adds:

“Do you actually believe, as you keep insisting in your whacko sermons, that the Hadith is accurate in saying that someday the rocks and trees are going to cry out to you that Jews are hiding behind them and for you to come and kill us?

Like, seriously, WTF?

I won’t dwell on the fact Muslims of your ilk (meaning not all Muslims), have been trying to kill Jews for generations, including siding with Hitler in World War II.

As you have may have noticed, you’re not having much success.”

Much to the chagrin of many Jewish friends, I responded to Goldstein’s piece by commenting that I just wonder how many individuals of all faiths, will remain silent to the fact that this article needed to be publicly said!

One of my highly respected Jewish friends did respond to my challenge, by addressing the Goldstein article. “Inciting this kind of hatred takes us down the road of anger and divisiveness. Grateful to the mainstream Muslim groups that have spoken out strongly against this antisemitic hate speech. Looking to other faith leaders to do the same.”

In all sincerity, I’m also grateful to the mainstream Muslim groups for reacting, according to my friend, in the way they did. Yet, should we, as Jews, have to rely just on a small percentage of Muslims, who came out to express their negative opinion of this intolerant imam?

These mainstream Muslims that my friend referred to, are spirit rebels within their community. As Jews we not only need to support them, but also receive their support. Religious hate is hate, irrespective of one’s religion.  And as French writer Pascal Bruckner quite eloquently put it some years ago:  “It is time to extend our solidarity to all the rebels of the Islamic world, non-believers, atheist libertines, dissenters, sentinels of liberty, as we supported Eastern European dissidents in former times…”

Returning to Goldstein. By all accounts, at least to me, there weren’t many from the Jewish community who communicated publicly one way or another about the content of his article. Sad isn’t! Yet, I’m not surprised. These days individual Jews, those we have relied on for far too long, who are in the front line of communicating the increase in hate literature, social media’s role in antisemitism, of Islamophobia and violent acts again Jews and Muslims alike, are part of declining social order within the Diaspora.

“Unfortunately, most of our communication today, and especially from Jews under 40, are floundering in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, which are not only communicated to death, but offend others.”

Some years ago Frank Luntz, the US-based political and business pollster stated: “We have developed some very destructive communication habits that have seriously undermined our efforts and the causes we believe in. Our words lose their resonance and our style and tone offend… We push people away when we should pull them in.”

This is highly visible within much of today’s young Jewish community, who lack the ability to communicate in a forthright and articulate manner on issues important to the Diaspora. It would seem they have taken the easier approach, the cause for Israel than looking at the current issues facing our own country. For the most part, sadly they see themselves not as proud Canadian Jews, but Jews who live in Canada.

Our Diaspora doesn’t have the reputation for being circumspect about our achievements, but the young seem to be lost in a quagmire of guarded pessimism with regard to our future. And that simply means more opportunities for the antisemites and hate mongers among us, as well as from external sources, from the Iranians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Hizb-ut Tahrir and all their lot, who thrive on our wallowing.

We need more open public and forthright dialogue and cooperation with the rebels and individuals and other religious groups to combat the alarming hate and intolerance now taking place in our universities. How many young Jews do you know who are currently willing to venture out of their closet mind-set and chance that?

To my mind, that’s why Goldstein’s message was written. It should have stirred young Jews to understand that expressing and communicating one’s view is part of who we are. While remembering our past, and be heedful of our future, we must open our doors to others and not be complacent with our own lot.

Well anyway, that’s how I see it.

Alan Simons can be reached at alan@alansimons dot info.

Video photo credit: B’nai Brith Canada

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