“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.

The plight this Christmas of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories.

jin-december-24-2016-feature

Part of this article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on December 24, 2016

Yet another wake-up call!

by Alan Simons

The Palestinian Information Center, so-called “Voice of Palestine to the World and the Voice of the World to Palestine,” as seen in the illustration above, directs its oppugnant Christmas message to the world. One would surmise, at this time of year, an honourable declaration of peace, compassion and goodwill to mankind that encompasses all that is good in Jesus Christ and Mary would be appropriate. Think again! At the time of writing this article, PICs website extends no hand in friendship and not even to its own Christian community in the West Bank and Gaza.

Within the Palestinian Territories the Christian population, comprising of a mere grain of sand compared to the overwhelming number of predominantly Sunni Muslims, only 1,100 Christians live in the Gaza Strip compared to 5,000 in 2006. And in the West Bank only 42,000 Christians remain. One wonders, with some dismay, what is to become of its Christians? Will history repeat itself as in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt?

This morning, Khaled Abu Toameh, who is based in Jerusalem  and is one of the areas most respected journalists, in an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished below with permission by jewishinfoNews, had something to say about the plight of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories. Irrespective of your religious faith, I urge you to read it now!

Palestinians: The Nightmare of Christians

  • For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s minuscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
  • He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack.
  • “The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I were in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. is my nightmare.” — Samir Qumsieh.

Without question, Samir Qumsieh is one of the most courageous Christian leaders in the Middle East. Qumsieh is one of the few willing to risk his life to speak out against Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East, generally.

For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s miniscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The plight of the Christians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a subject truly taboo. Yet Qumsieh perseveres – and pays the price. He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack. Muslim extremists have also distributed leaflets in the Bethlehem area condemning him for his outspoken views and activities on behalf of persecuted Christians.

Samir Qumsieh.

However, the campaign of intimidation has not deterred Qumsieh from defending them.

In an exclusive interview with Gatestone Institute, the prominent Christian figure, who founded the private Nativity TV Station in Bet Sahour, accuses the Obama Administration of failing to combat ISIS and radical Islam. Qumsieh says he is convinced that President-elect Trump will “terminate” ISIS.

Qumsieh discloses that a “Muslim mafia” has been stealing Christian-owned lands in the Bethlehem area.

As a prominent Palestinian Christian figure in the living in the Middle East, how would you assess the Obama Administration’s role in the war on ISIS?

President Obama is the spiritual father of ISIS. His administration and he were never serious about fighting ISIS. This is what I firmly believe, and many facts confirm my thoughts. When Obama saw that this was about to be exposed, he finally acted, but in a weak manner. He put out a ransom against (ISIS leader) Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi and started telling us that he had bombed ISIS, and so on.

How do you explain Obama’s refusal to use the term radical Islam?

If you ask me, I will tell you the truth: I doubt that Obama is a Christian. Really, I doubt it. During his term, ISIS emerged, and the Christians have suffered heavily. Let me ask you a question. What is ISIS? Why is it that this mobilization of the whole world has not been able to eradicate them? Who can convince me? When America toppled Saddam Hussein, who had a very big and strong army, he collapsed. But when it comes to ISIS, how come they still exist?

Do you believe that President-elect Donald Trump will endorse a different stance toward ISIS?

Absolutely. Trump will obliterate ISIS. Had Hilary Clinton won, believe me ISIS would have continued and flourished. In my view, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the ‘father’ of ISIS, and Clinton is its ‘mother.’

I have a friend who is a painter. He paints portraits of presidents. He is a Muslim, by the way. We sent portraits to King Abdullah, to Mahmoud Abbas and the Pope. He painted a portrait of Obama in front of the Church of Nativity. He worked on it for two months and it cost a lot of money. When the portrait was presented to Obama through the US consul-general in Jerusalem, they did not bother to send a thank you letter to the painter, although I personally talked to the consulate about this. I told them, ‘Gentlemen, this is shameful, at least send a thank-you letter to this man.’ The consul-general at that time came to my office and took the portrait. Doesn’t the painter deserve at least a thank-you letter?

Are you saying that Obama has not done anything to help Christians in the Middle East?

Nothing at all. As I said, I think he was not serious about fighting ISIS, which has harmed the Christians very badly.

In your opinion, what is the best way to fight religious extremism?

I have always said that the solution to extremism is not through the military or security. The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.

But isn’t the turmoil and violence in the Middle East the result of religious extremism?

The current conflict in the entire region is a religious and sectarian war. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are Sunni. They are against Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. So we are witnessing a religious and sectarian war. This is not only a conflict between Sunnis and Shias.

How do you feel as a Christian when you see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, especially the recent bombing of a church in Egypt?

What is happening is extremely sad, especially the bombing of a church. I think the Egyptian authorities should act decisively. Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I was in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.

Are you aware of Palestinian Muslim clerics who also speak out against Christians?

Yes. This past Friday, one of the sheikhs at a mosque was speaking in a threatening way about Christians. He said that Muslim youths should not imitate Christian youths, and should not wish them well at Christmas. He also said that Muslims should not be doing business with Christians. The sheikh said some highly intimidating things about Christians.

Did the Christians protest against this incitement by the sheikh?

My cousin, who is a retired officer with the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Security Department, published something about the Friday sermon on Facebook. The following day he had to delete the post because it seems he received threats or something like that. When I told my cousin that I will talk with the Palestinian Authority attorney-general about it, he asked me not to talk to anyone. My cousin said, ‘Please don’t talk about this matter because we are 40 Christian families in that area (where the sheikh lives). It is clear to me that my cousin did receive threats, although he would not admit to it.

How would you describe relations between Christians and Muslims in the Bethlehem area?

Objectively speaking, there are millions of Muslims who are good people. I have many close Muslim friends whom I consider as my brothers. The problem is not Muslims. The real problem is radical Islam. In the Quran, there are various kinds of statements, and every Muslim, depending on his belief and attitude, selects what suits him. Some verses call for peace and describe Christians as the ‘People of the Book’ and good people. There are also verses that describe us as infidels and sinful folks. Everyone chooses what appeals to him. According to my humble knowledge, these verses are undated. I think that if they were dated, the fresh ones would supersede the old ones.

My understanding is that you have personally been the target of threats and violent attacks. Can you elaborate?

Yes, I have faced a great deal of harassment, and in 2006 I was even attacked with Molotov cocktails. Also, fliers that spoke against me have been distributed.

What is the main accusation against you? Why are some Muslims angry with you?

When I saw that there was encroachment on Christian-owned land here, I protested against it.

Is it true that Muslims have been illegally laying their hands on Christian property in Bethlehem?

We have a mafia here that is seizing Christian-owned lands. I protested against this Muslim mafia, and I even called a large gathering. I invited 80 people to my home. They included the elite of society – Muslims and Christians. They all joined my protest. That same night, fliers were distributed in Bethlehem threatening to kill me.

What has the Palestinian Authority done to help against you fight this mafia?

There are still many unresolved cases with regards to land encroachment. These cases are in the courts, but our judicial system is very slow. If you go to court, you have to wait 15-20 years. Recently, we have noticed that the encroachments decreased immensely because we have been talking to the Palestinian Authority and pressing them about the problem. Today, there are only a few cases like this taking place. We want all these cases to be solved.

Is there discrimination against Christians living under the Palestinian Authority?

One cannot say that there is official discrimination. President Abbas attends Christmas midnight mass, his prime minister attends the lighting of the Christmas tree. Still, I can simply say that among our people you will find some who harbor radical extremist thoughts. ISIS is a thought. There are Christians working in the Palestinian Authority, but not many. We have Christian mayors, and that is how it should be. Bethlehem, Bet Sahour and Bet Jala have Christian mayors, although some have been demanding that this be changed because Christians are a minority. Fortunately for us, the Palestinian Authority did not respond to these demands.

Do you believe that Christian leaders are doing enough to defend the interests of their people?

Frankly, I do not want the day to come when the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity are turned into museums. Rather, I wish to seize this opportunity hope that it will encourage our leaders to tackle the problem and find a solution. Any Christian businessman who is interested in the general issue of Christians should come and invest here. We want them to build projects, including housing projects. We are also hoping that these projects will provide jobs for young Christians. The biggest problem we are facing is Christian emigration. Some Christians are helping, but this is being done on a very limited scale. But I cannot say that Christian patriarchates are doing their best. Some of them are far from the congregation and do not even care about us. We want wealthy Christians to come here and create project initiatives. It is not enough to say ‘I love the Christians and I care about them.’ This love should be demonstrated through deeds.

Are you worried about the growing number of Christians who are leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip?

Once, 5,000 Christians lived in the Gaza Strip. When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2006, Christians began to be harassed and discriminated against. Today, only 1,100 Christians live there. In the Bethlehem area, there are about 40,000 Christians. Altogether, there are about 42,000 Christians remaining in the West Bank. There are two reasons behind the dwindling figures. The first of these is the ongoing emigration, which is a nightmare for us; the second is the low birth rate among Christian families. To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here. Looking at the facts on the ground, you can see that there is no future for the Christians here. We are melting; we are disappearing. I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. That is my nightmare.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

“How to Assess the Bannon Appointment”

Special Report

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article was originally published by Gatestone Institute  and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on November 17, 2016.

by Alan M. Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz credit jewishbusinessnews JIN July 13 2016President Elect Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist has been criticized on the ground that Bannon is an anti-Semite. There are many reasons for opposing the appointment of Bannon, but anti-Semitism is not one of them. I do not support the Bannon appointment. But neither do I support accusing Bannon of being an anti-Semite, based on the evidence I have seen.

With regard to anti-Semitism, there are three distinct but overlapping issues: (1) Is Bannon personally an anti-Semite? (2) Does his publication, Breitbart, promote anti-Semitic views? (3) Do Breitbart and Bannon have followers who are anti-Semitic?

From what I can tell, the evidence cited in support of the accusation that personally Bannon is an anti-Semite falls into two categories: first, that his wife testified at a hotly contested divorce proceeding that he did not want his children to go to school with “whiney Jews”; and second, that he ran an article describing Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew.”

Let us consider these items of evidence in order. Senator Harry Reid tried to strengthen the first accusation against Bannon by saying that it appeared in a court document, thus suggesting that it had the imprimatur of a judge. But that is not the case. The claim was simply made by his former wife in a judicial proceeding, thus giving it no special weight. Bannon has rigorously denied making the statement and said that he and his wife were fighting over whether his children should attend Catholic school, rather than a secular school.

On the other side of the ledger is the testimony of Jewish individuals who have worked closely with him for years. These include my former research assistant, Joel Pollak, an orthodox Jew who wears a kippah and takes off all the Jewish holidays. He is married to a black woman from South Africa who converted to Judaism. Joel assures me that he never heard a single anti-Semitic utterance or saw an anti-Semitic action in the four years they worked together. The same is true of numerous other Jewish individuals who work with him, some of whom thoroughly disapprove of Bannon’s politics and the way he ran Breitbart, but none of whom have reported any events of anti-Semitism.

The second alleged item of evidence is the following headline that appeared on Breitbart: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.”[1] I am advised, however, that this article and the headline were written not by Bannon but rather by David Horowitz, a right-wing Jew who was upset with Kristol for his refusal to support Trump. Horowitz deemed that a betrayal of the Jewish people. While I fundamentally disagree with that appraisal and also of the article, I find it hard to characterize Bannon as an anti-Semite because Breitbart ran it. Breitbart has also personally attacked me,[2] but that doesn’t change my views.

I keep an open mind waiting for more evidence, if there is any, but on the basis of what I have read, I think it is wrong to accuse Bannon of one of the most serious forms of bigotry. So I will not join the chorus of condemnation that employs this radioactive term against Bannon without compelling evidence. The Anti-Defamation League has now commendably acknowledged that there is no evidence of anti-Semitism by Bannon: “We are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon.”

As to whether Bannon promotes the alt-right, and whether the alt-right includes anti-Semites, I think the answer to that is yes.[3] Both Bannon and Breitbart have made bigoted statements about Muslims, women and others, which I do not condone. That is why I do not support Bannon, even though I do not think he’s an anti-Semite. Bigotry against any group should be disqualifying for high office. But let’s put this criticism of Bannon and Breitbart into context. Haaretz certainly serves as a platform for the alt-left in Israel. Though it features a wide range of commentary, primarily from the center-left, it also features hard-left writers such as Gideon Levy, who supports academic, cultural and economic boycotts against Israel and its “criminal” regime, as well as Amira Hass, who encourages Palestinians to throw stones and engage in “violent resistance” against Israel. These writers have certainly been accused, and with some justification, of promoting hatred not only against the current Israel government, but against the very nature of Israel and Zionism.[4] Their hateful writings are often quoted gleefully by anti-Zionist and anti-Semites.[5]

This is not to compare Breitbart with Haaretz, but it is to suggest caution in holding a publication responsible for all the views expressed by its writers. To be sure, Haaretz‘s general orientation tends to be center-left, whereas Breitbart is hard-right, but both serve as platforms for extremes on either side. The same can be said of J Street, which is a center-left organization which serves as a platform for, and includes among its active members and contributors, BDS supporters, anti-Zionists and opponents of Israel’s existence as the Nation State of the Jewish people.

Or consider Black Lives Matter, an organization with a commendable goal, that has promoted anti-Semitism by singling out one country for condemnation in its “platform”: calling the Nation State of the Jewish People an “apartheid” and “genocidal” regime. In an article in Above the Law, Joe Patrice attacks me for my critique of Black Lives Matter, claiming that “it’s certainly possible someone in the movement also has sympathy for Palestinians.” But there is an enormous difference between “sympathy for Palestinians” (which I share) and accusing the entire nation state of the Jewish people of “genocide” (which I believe is anti-Semitic).

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are prevalent both on the hard-right and on the hard-left. The Trump election has brought hard-right anti-Semitism into public view, but the bigotry of the hard-left is far more prevalent and influential on many university campuses, both in the United States and in Europe. A single standard of criticism must be directed at each. We must judge individuals on the basis of their own statements and actions, and we should be cautious in judging publications and organizations on the basis of who they publish, who their audience is and who supports them.

People of good will, Jews and non-Jews, must condemn with equal vigor all manifestations of bigotry whether they emanate from the hard alt-right or hard alt-left. That is why I cannot support Bannon’s appointment, even though he is strongly pro-Israel. But that is also why I can’t support those on the hard-left who advocate good causes, while at the same time promoting anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel.

Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus and author of “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” and “Electile Dysfunction.”


[1]Bill Kristol: Republic Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” by David Horowitz, 15 May 2016.

[2] See Adrian Otto, “Alan Dershowitz Hangs Up Over Clinton College Scandal,” Breitbart, Nov. 4, 2016; the article was originally published with the title “Dershowitz Goes Berserk.” The article falsely claimed that Laureate University received money from the State Department, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

[3] See Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” Breitbart, March 29, 2016.

[4] David Lev, “Amira Hass: I’ve Had it With the Jews,” Israel National News, September, 10, 2011. To Levy, Israel can never do any good. In an op-ed titled “Real Leftists Won’t Go to the Ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin,” he writes, “Peace was murdered with or without Rabin because Israel didn’t want it. It never seriously wanted it because it includes the end of the occupation, which it has never agreed to give up. No ceremony will change that.” Gideon Levy, “Real Leftists Won’t Go to the Ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin,” Haaretz, Nov. 3, 2016.

[5] For instance, Hass is favorably cited by Norman Finkelstein, MondoWeiss, and Democracy Now. Gideon Levy has been praised by the dean of anti-Zionist intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, as “an early Jewish prophet.” Johann Hari, “Is Gideon Levy the Most Hated Man in Israel or just the Most Heroic?“, Independent, Sept. 23, 2010.

The article printed above does not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers of jewishinfoNews

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”