Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

Jews once fought and died for voting rights. Here’s why some are still at it. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrate for voting rights outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J. Some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. (Warren K. Leffler/Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK (JTA) Andrew GoodmanandMichael Schwernerare about the closest American Jews have to secular saints. The two Jewish civil rights workers traveled south for the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, joining the African-American activist James Chaney in canvassing black churches. All three were kidnapped and murdered by a lynch mob.

Forty-three years ago next Friday, Aug. 4, their bullet-riddled bodies were found buried in a dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi, 44 days after their disappearance.

The hagiographies of the two Jewish men, both in their 20s, sometimes overlook the specific purpose of their trip to the Jim Crow South: registering African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. Freedom Summer was meant to directly confrontefforts, legal and otherwise, to prevent blacks from voting: poll taxes and literacy tests, fear and intimidation, and as Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney found out, beatings and lynchings.

As the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, described the mission, the inability to vote was only one of many problems blacks encountered in the racist society around them, but the civil-rights officials who decided to zero in on voter registration understood its crucial significance as well the white supremacists did. An African American voting bloc would be able to effect social and political change.

It was the unfinished business of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney that animated 24 faith groups, 17 of them Jewish, to write a letter to Congress urging lawmakers not to fund the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity the Orwellian name for President Donald Trumps effort to hunt down those 3 million illegal ballots that he claims illicitly cost him the popular vote. Thats Trumps agenda, anyway. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other commission members say they merely want to gauge the extent of the problem and propose remedies.

Kobach has already signaled the kinds of remedies he has in mind: imposing strict voter identificationlaws; removing names from voter rolls perhaps using inaccurate or unreliable databases; identifying potential duplicate registration records that use a notoriously misleading instrument; or just failing to enforce existing laws that have expanded individuals right to vote.

Sure, such remedies might end up suppressing the votes of poor people, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly (and, what do you know, Democrats) in fact, nearly all reliable studies and multiplecourt cases say they will. But, according to Kobach and company, thats the price to be paid for, well, integrity.

This FBI poster was circulated before the bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were found. (Wikimedia Commons)

The voting commission is a solution in search of a problem. Voting by non-citizens isvanishingly rare. Trumps claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 elections were baseless, as the faith coalition notes. There are no reputable studies to suggest that U.S. elections have been compromised by fraudulent voting by undocumented immigrants, felons, double voters or dead voters. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a Voter Fraud Database it says shows incontrovertible evidence that voter fraud is a real and pressing issue, lists only1,071 instances of voter fraud going back to 1981. Americans have cast over 1 billion votes during that period in presidential elections alone.

Rather than pointing to evidence that suggests otherwise because it cant the administration offers something else: doubt.We may never know if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election, Kobach told MSNBC.Responding to reports that more than 40 states rejected intrusive requests for massive amounts of data on its voters, Trump said this month, If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what theyre worried about.

The assumption of the commission is that voter fraud is real and widespread; the onus is on everyone else to prove it isnt.

Late-night comics giggle at Trumps propensity for creating alternative realities, whether it was his campaign claim that America was experiencing an unprecedented crime wave or this weeks tweetssaying that transgender service members are a financial drain on the military. Fitting this pattern is his and his teams ongoing refusal to accept the conclusion by the top four intelligence agencies that Russian interference in the 2016 election was real and significant. On Monday, top presidential adviser Jared Kushner emerged from his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to declare that accusations of Russian meddling and administration collusion with the Russians are an insult to Trumps voters.

Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won, Kushner said. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.

In other words: No matter what the CIA, FBI and National Security Council tell us, Russian interference in the presidential election is a non-issue. But the unfounded reports of voter fraud are worth a federally funded commission.

Unlike the talk show hosts, civil rights activists and other fans of representative democracy arent laughing.

Taxpayer funds should go towards efforts to encourage voter participation, the faith coalition said in its letter, rather than a commission intended to restrict voting rights.

Some have memories of how hard Jews fought alongside blacks to secure voting rights. Others believe, as the coalition put it, that their religion teaches them to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people especially the sacred right to vote.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a federal lawsuit calling the presidents election commission a pretext for the suppression of black and Latino voters.

Obviously this is a calamity for Democrats, who already are seeing evidence that laws making it harder to vote are having a disproportionate effect on their constituents. But this should also be an issue for Jews who support the president and wish he would get on with the business of addressing actual problems, from infrastructure to job creation to regulatory overreach.

Theres been a debate over the years about whether or not Goodman and Schwerner were part of the Jewish story. At a big Jewish conference a number of years ago, I heard the head of what is now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs declare, When Goodman and Schwerner went south for Freedom Summer, they were doing Jewish!’ Others questioned then, and still question today, why so many Jewish activists pursue universalist causes in the name of tikkun olam rather than working on issues that will specifically benefit Israel or their fellow Jews.

Goodman and Schwerner were of a generation that did not distinguish between policies that were good for them and those that were good for us. Jews were only just emerging from decades in which discrimination against them was both legal and tolerated. They knew that rights won slowly could be taken away quickly, and that if any minority was at risk, then all minorities were at risk.

The organizations that backed Freedom Summer understood the power of coalitions in pursuing their own particularist agendas. You can call it enlightened self-interest, but maybe thats just another name for tikkun olam.

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Jews once fought and died for voting rights. Here’s why some are still at it. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Libyan Jews fret over Jewish artifacts – Intermountain Jewish News

Tripolis Corinthia Hotel appears behind the abandoned Dar Bishi synagogue in the Libyan capital on September 28, 2011. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

TRIPOLI Gina Waldman was forced to flee her native Libya in 1967 as anti-Jewish mobs took to the streets of Tripoli, burning down her fathers warehouse.

Waldman, like thousands of other Libyan Jews who left the country amid public and state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the 20th century, was forced to leave behind both personal belongings she was only allowed to bring a single suitcase with her and a rich cultural heritage that testified to over 2,000 years of Jewish presence in the North African country.

Today no Jews remain in Libya.

That heritage including synagogues, cemeteries and ritual objects has long been under threat.

But now an additional obstacle is coming from an unlikely place, said Waldman, president and co-founder of the group Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, or JIMENA.

The threat stems from a memorandum of understanding request by the Libyan government currently under consideration by the State Department that would prohibit artifacts dated 1911 and earlier, including Jewish ritual objects, from being brought into the US from Libya.

That would mean that anyone attempting to bring in antique Torah scrolls, tombstones, books and other ritual objects would be stopped at the US border, and the objects would be confiscated and sent back to Libya.

Waldman, who lives in San Francisco, called the measure very, very offensive to the Jewish community.

She said the memorandum would block people from removing Jewish artifacts when the very government itself has destroyed every single synagogue, every single [Jewish] cemetery.

Waldman said she is not aware of anyone having attempted to take Jewish artifacts out of Libya, or of any plans to do so. But she worries that the memorandum would affect any future efforts to recover those materials.

The State Departments Cultural Property Advisory Committee convened this week to discuss and consider the request, which Libya submitted in June. It has not announced a decision.

The State Department emailed JTA saying it would comment by Monday, July 24, but did not follow through.

Libya claims that the request is necessary for curbing black market sales of artifacts from the country.

Libyas patrimony is now under severe and continuing threat of pillage due to ongoing conflict and the rise of violent extremist groups, according to a State Department summary of the request. (The original request is not available publicly.)

In addition to mentioning threats to Islamic and Berber materials, the summary specifically refers to Jewish sites being pillaged.

Many of the old Jewish cemeteries and sites are being looted for antiquities to export where there is an active transit or ultimate market for these objects, it says, later adding that some Jewish materials are sold in Israel.

Critics say the request is illegitimate and allows for Libya to claim ownership of various artifacts, including those that belong to its exiled Jewish community.

Kate Fitz Gibbon, a lawyer who served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2002-03, spoke harshly of the memorandum.

I was terrifically offended at this idea that a Middle Eastern country that has forcibly expelled all of its Jewish population should have whatever is left, she told JTA. This is the opposite of Holocaust repatriation. This is telling the survivors that they should give whats left back to the oppressors.

Fitz Gibbon added that there was no proof in the State Department summary that Jewish artifacts were in fact being taken out of Libya.

Last week, she spoke in opposition to the memorandum on behalf of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association at a public open session organized by the State Department.

In addition to sharing objections on behalf of Jewish critics, Fitz Gibbon also said that Libya was not capable of properly preserving artifacts. The country, which has been in disarray following the 2011 fighting that toppled dictator Moammar Qadaffi, is currently under the rule of a provisional government and violent clashes continue to break out.

Libya, which has no museums they have 24 museums, they are all closed no tourism, has never done cultural exchange, and in this actual request said were not going to do any cultural exchange because we dont have the money or time or the ability,there is no question that Libya doesnt even meet one of these criteria for an MOU, Fitz Gibbon said.

Libyas request is not unprecedented. The US has similar agreements with 17 countries, including one reached recently with Egypt. Congress also has passed emergency laws restricting artifacts from Iraq and Syria from entering the country.

Such laws draw on a 1970 UNESCO convention that allows for the placing of import and export restrictions in cases where a countrys patrimony is under threat of pillaging and its artifacts in danger of entering the black market.

A similar battle is playing out with an Iraqi Jewish archive uncovered by US troops in 2003 in Baghdad. The artifacts were on tour in the US in 2014 and were supposed to be returned to Iraq, but Jewish groups objected, saying they should be in the custody of the Iraqi Jewish community, which is living outside of the country after being driven out. The case of those artifacts remains unresolved.

Marc Lubin, a lawyer assisting Waldmans group, said efforts to keep Jewish artifacts in Libya or Iraq do not guarantee the preservation of the objects.

As was the case with the Iraqi Jewish artifacts, the Libyan MOU legitimizes Libyas confiscation of the property of fleeing Jews by recognizing the Libyan governments legal claim to that property, Lubin told JTA in an email.

It gives a green light to future desecration by prohibiting the removal of sacred items from Libya for safe-keeping. It requires Libyan Jewrys heritage remain in place as a target for fanatics, all in the name of preservation.

Critics say Libyan-Jewish artifacts arent the only thing at stake. Granting the memorandum could set a precedent.

JIMENA is fighting this MOU because it sets a precedent to all of the Muslim, mostly Arab countries who have desecrated and impounded all of our antiquities, all of our heritage, Waldman said.

Fitz Gibbon echoed Waldmans concerns.

There was recently an MOU granted for Egypt, and the past pattern for MOUs has been that one nation, then two nations, then all nations within a specific region were covered, Fitz Gibbon said.

Waldman said that JIMENA is not concerned with the artifacts monetary value but rather with establishing the fact that the objects belong to the exiled Jewish community.

Theyve already taken private property, and now they are going after community property and our heritage, she said. It isnt money value that we are fighting for, but it is the right to know we are the rightful owners they are not.

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Libyan Jews fret over Jewish artifacts – Intermountain Jewish News

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Becker, Abramson found JTown to reach Jews in south suburbs – Intermountain Jewish News

Amy Becker, left, and Cindy Abramson

JTown is a new organization focusing on Jews in the south suburbs who are looking for connections to other Jews and to expand their community.

Co-Founders Cindy Abramson and Amy Becker are excited about this new journey saying, JTown brings Jewish people of all ages together through adult social programs, engaging family events, alternative worship experiences, and participation in meaningful social action projects. The response has been overwhelming. We are thrilled to start sharing the opportunities we have created for Jews and Jewish families to connect.

Participation in JTown is different than membership organizations; there are no dues and people only pay to come to the events they choose. For a small fee, participants can become a JTowner.

JTowners receive free High Holiday tickets and discounted rates at all JTown programs. Many events will be low cost or free and all programs are always open to anyone who wishes to participate.

Abramson and Becker add, We believe that everyone can choose the way in which they live Jewishly. Your Jewish identity belongs to you, and whatever way is comfortable and meaningful to observe, is up to you.

They added, JTown is about building relationships, making connections and constructing communities. This is what we represent and invite others to join us on this journey.

JTown will host three High Holiday alternative services at The Lone Tree Hub that will include music, readings, prayers, and opportunities for reflection. JTown welcomes everyone, regardless of upbringing, level of observance, affiliation, or type of family.

Abramson and Becker say JTown is a great fit for interfaith families, striving to make it equally as comfortable to both the Jewish and non-Jewish family member.

Reservations must be made in advance for the High Holiday services.

JTown already has many social and family events planned. JTown is putting together a team to participate in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, Sept. 23, at Coors Field. The walk is to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In addition, JTown will host a mini-mitzvah day in the spring.

Information: www.jtownco.org, or Cindy Abramson or Amy Becker at info@jtownco.org or 720-920-9086.

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Becker, Abramson found JTown to reach Jews in south suburbs – Intermountain Jewish News

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

PartyNextDoor Deletes Tweet About Jews Selling Chains – XXLMAG.COM

Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

PartyNextDoor has kept the focus on his music for a majority of the year, but last night, his Twitter became the topic of discussion. The singer and Wild Thoughts songwriter sent out a controversial, now-deleted tweet about Jewish people, referring to them as jewelers that sell chains to the black community.

The tweet was seen as anti-semiticby many social media users who came across it, with fans encouraging him to delete it. PNDs statement insinuates that he sees jewelers as mostly of the Jewish heritage, while also speaking on black people and how they react to their financial freedom by purchasing said chains.

The Jewssorry the jewelers are selling dawg chains, PND writes. lol its actually funny what black people do when they have financial freedom.

After deleting the tweet, the Not Nice singer claims that he was simply trolling, despite the outrage from social media.

No lol I just love to troll, he writes. Tweet and delete life forever.

The tweet definitely raises some eyebrows, as Party is currently signed to OVO, which is run by Drake, who is Jewish. Many are still wondering what originally inspiredthe statement from the singer, but it does follow in the footsteps of JAY-Z, who was also accused of being anti-semitic on The Story of O.J.from his 4:44 album.

See the deleted tweet from PartyNextDoor below along with his explanation.

See Fans Predictions for the Hip-Hop Songs That Will Rule Summer 2017

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Turkey says Jews should appreciate the Ottoman Empire – The Jerusalem Post

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, June 13, 2017. . (photo credit:KAYHAN OZER/PRESIDENTIAL PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The Jews should appreciate how good they had it under the Ottoman Empire, Turkeys Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday after Israel responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdogans comments on the Temple Mount crisis by reminding him that the days of the Ottoman Empire are over.

We condemn the presumptuous statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel regarding the remarks of our president on the recent developments at al-Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount], Foreign Ministry spokesman Hseyin Mftoglu said. At the Ottoman era, communities belonging to different religions and sects lived in peaceful coexistence and enjoyed freedom of worship for centuries. In this context, Jews would be expected to know best and appreciate the unique tolerance during the Ottoman era.

Mftoglu said that in Turkey today, freedom of faith and worship are also safeguarded by the state.

Al-Haram al-Sharif, which is the third-most sacred site for all Muslims, ranks prominently among the highest priorities of the Islamic world, he said.

Therefore, the responsibility that rests with Israel is to urgently make common sense prevail, go back to the status quo at al-Haram al-Sharif and lift all the restrictions on the freedom of worship.

On Wednesday, a day after Erdogan called on Muslims the world over to defend al-Aksa, and added that the boots of IDF soldiers were dirtying the site, he said that Israels step back from the metal detector implementation that offends Muslims is right, but not enough.

Speaking at an event on higher education in the Islamic world in Ankara, Erdogan continued: Israel is attempting to damage the Islamic character of Jerusalem with new practices every day by taking advantage of the current weakness of Muslims.

Those who criticize Turkey whenever possible suddenly become silent when the issue is Palestine, Jerusalem, or Muslims rights or laws, he added.

Those comments prompted the following response from Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon: Its absurd that the Turkish government, which occupies Northern Cyprus, brutally represses the Kurdish minority and jails journalists, lectures Israel, the only true democracy in the region. The days of the Ottoman Empire have passed.

It was Nahshons statement about the Ottoman Empire, which he also said a day earlier after Erdogans first tirade regarding Jerusalem adding that Erdogans comments were delusional and distorted that triggered the response by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding how Jews should remember life under the Ottomans.

Israel and Turkey reestablished full diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors in December 2016, more than five years after the MV Mavi Marmara flotilla incident sent relations between the two countries into a tailspin.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

California Imam under fire after asking Allah to ‘annihilate’ Jews in sermon – Fox News

Jewish groups have asked Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate a California Imam who gave a sermon calling on Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one” — and asked for his congregants to take part in the slaughter.

Imam Ammar Shahin gave the sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis, California on Friday. He asked for Allah to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel from “the filth of the Jews,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, and cited an Islamic text that calls for a Judgement Day fight between Muslims and Jews.

Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them, said Shahin, who spoke in both Arabic and English during his sermon. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds.

ORTHODOX JEWISH GRADE SCHOOL IN UK FAILS INSPECTION FOR REFUSAL TO TEACH ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION

“The sermon is very antisemitic and violent, much like many sermons in the mosques of the Middle East,”MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky told Fox News in a statement. “It is not surprising that the imam/mosque are denying this and saying that it is incorrect or out of context. In fact, there were two different sermons from California mosques this week, both of them calling for destroying/annihilating the Jews.”

A video of the sermon was posted to the Islamic Center of Davis YouTube channel on Friday. Excerpts of the sermon, which lasted about two and a half minutes, were translated and posted on the MEMRI website.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is on a holy site for both Jews and Muslims in East Jerusalem, and was the scene of a July 14 terror attack during which three Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police officers.

The shrine was closed for several days in the aftermath of the assault, canceling Friday prayers for the first time in decades. New security measures, including metal detectors, were installed, and immediately drew Palestinian condemnation.

Israel said the security measures were necessary to prevent more attacks, while Palestinians claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site. The issue has sparked some of the worst street clashes in years.

US MUSLIMS SEE FRIENDLY NEIGHBORS, BUT A FOE IN WHITE HOUSE

In a statement on itswebsite, the Islamic Center of Davis stood behind Shahin and his sermon, saying it was taken out of context.

The ICD will always stand against anti-Semitism similarly to how the Jewish community has always stood against Islamophobia in our close knit community, the statement said. We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry.

It continued: MEMRI, an extremist agenda driven organization that supports Israels occupation of Palestinian land, and other Islamophobic news organizations, accused Imam Shahin of anti-Semitism, quoting edited, mistranslated, passages of the sermon out of context.

In another statement to theDavid Enterprise, the center said the sermon described the theological issue regarding the apocalyptic battle between Jesus and the Antichrist, or between good and evil not against any particular group.

When people believe in Jesus and hold on to the truth, God will support them. This was the purpose of citing the prophetic tradition, the center said. In the context of the full sermon, it becomes clear that the theme of the sermon was against oppression, and not against Jews or any religion.

Steve Cohan, co-president of Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis, said in a statement that Shahins sermon was deeply concerning but that he looked forward to going beyond the online media reports and sharing his thoughts with the Islamic Center leadership.

But not everyone is being quite so understanding of Shahin’s rhetoric.

TheSimon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization in Los Angeles, has called upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation of the Imam for inciting to murder Jews.

By explicitly urging Muslims to annihilate all Jews by their own hands, Shahin has crossed the line beyond protected speech, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Alderstein, both SWC directors, wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Hamza El-Nakhal, a longtime member of the Muslim community in Davis and a former president of the Islamic Centers executive board, told the Davis Enterprise that he found the video disturbing.

He said he was out of town and did not attend the Friday service.

While I am disgusted by the action of the Israeli government in preventing Muslim people from doing their prayers in the Masjid Al-Aqsa, I am equally disgusted by any religious leader who does not take the chance (during) high unsettling times to calm their congregations, El-Nakhal said.

Some people like Imam Ammar Shahin become angry for injustices. He spoke while angry. He should not have given this sermon while angry.

Fox News’ Pamela Browne and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.

Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

26 Jews flee Venezuelan crisis to Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Michal Levy with her 3 children and IFCJ coordinator for aliya from Latin America Debbie Ashkenazi (right) at Ben Gurion Airport on July 26, 2017. (photo credit:IFCJ)

Twenty-six Jews from Venezuela immigrated to Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, part of a general surge in emigration from the country as its political and economic crises have paralyzed parts of the nation.

While thousands of their countrymen are heading over the borders to other Latin American countries, some Jewish Venezuelans have opted to use their eligibility for citizenship in Israel.

On July 30, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is holding a vote to create a legislative super-body that would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.

Near daily anti-government protests since April have seen masked youths with stones, Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars battling riot police using tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

The situation is very hard, Michal Levy, 35, told The Jerusalem Post over the phone from Ben-Gurion Airport shortly after arriving in Israel with her three children on Wednesday on one of two flights organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Seven families arrived on the two flights.

Its hard to get basic things like bread and flour, Levy said, adding that she had been afraid to leave the house due to the riots and for fear that a member of her family could be kidnapped for ransom a common phenomenon in the country.

Levys son suffers from a skin allergy for which he requires medication, but she had not been able to obtain any recently.

Three months ago we understood we couldnt continue living here, she said.

For more than a week you cant leave the house its not simple.

Levy is a returning Israeli citizen, having left for Venezuela five-and-a-half years ago for her husbands work.

She taught at a Jewish school in Caracas and described the Jewish community as very supportive. She said many in the community are wealthy though there is a range of socioeconomic status among them and they always help one another obtain ransom money if there is a kidnapping in the community, making them a desirable target.

Members of the community are constantly leaving the country, some to Panama or the US, others to Israel.

Levys family is heading to Rishon Lezion. I know it will be better for my children here, at home, and thats whats important, she said.

In contrast to Levys remark, the Fellowship maintains that while the majority of the Jewish community in Venezuela used to be wealthy, most of those who had the means have left the country.

Several of the families who made aliya were in severe economic distress, the organization noted. An estimated 5,000-9,000 Jews remain in Venezuela. Within that community, the Fellowship says, are some 1,400 elderly and some 500 children. Seven hundred families, it says, are supported by community welfare agencies.

In addition to the absorption benefits all immigrants receive from the State of Israel, the Fellowship funds the Venezuelans flights to Israel and grants them $400 per child and $800 per adult. The Fellowship also assists the immigrants for half a year, helping place the children in educational institutions and providing social and welfare assistance. By the end of 2017, the Fellowship expects to have brought 100 immigrants from Venezuela.

The Fellowship is focused on helping Jews around the world who are in financial or security distress and helping them immigrate to Israel and build a new and safe life, said the president of the Fellowship, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

For the last year and a half, the Fellowship has helped 200 Jews immigrate to Israel and is also helping the Jewish community by providing them with medicines that are unobtainable there, he added. Reuters contributed to this report.

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Compared To Jews, American Muslims Intermarry Far Less And Are More Devout – Forward

NEW YORK (JTA) Since it came out in 2013, the Pew study a landmark survey of American Jewish demographics, beliefs and practices has been at the center of American Jewish scrutiny and handwringing.

Now its American Muslims turn.

On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released a survey of American Muslims focusing not only on numbers and their way of life, but also on how the community has responded to the election of President Donald Trump.

Comparing the two studies shows a Muslim sector in America that is more religious, growing faster and feels more embattled than American Jews. But both groups voted for Hillary Clinton.

Heres how the Jews and Muslims of the United States stack up.

There are more Jews than Muslims in America, but the Muslim population is growing faster.

Pew found that there are about 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, a little more than 1 percent of the population. U.S. Jews, by contrast, stand at 5.3 million around 2 percent of all Americans.

But Muslims, Pew found, skew younger and have higher birth rates. More than a third of U.S. Muslims are under 30, only 14 percent are over 55 and their birth rate is 2.4, slightly higher than the national average. Most American Jews are over 50 and their birth rate is 1.9. While the median age of U.S. Muslims is 35, the median age of U.S. Jews is 50. Americans in general have a median age of 47.

These numbers explain why a 2015 Pew study found that by 2050, American Muslims will outnumber American Jews. While the Jewish population is expected to stagnate at about 5.4 million, Pew predicts that in a little more than three decades, there will be 8 million Muslims in America.

The respective studies also included some data unique to each religion. While there are sharp internal divides between Shia and Sunni Muslims, Pew did not address the question of who is a Muslim as it did with Jewish Americans.

The study reported demographic data that may contradict popular American stereotypes of Muslims. Only 14 percent of Muslim immigrants are from the Middle East, while one-fifth are from South Asia. And the plurality of American Muslims four in 10 are white.

Only 13 percent of American Muslims are intermarried.

When Pew released its study of the Jews in 2013, American Jewish leaders began fretting about an intermarriage rate of 58 percent since 2000 and they havent stopped. By that measure, American Muslim leaders can rest easy.

Unlike the majority of American Jews, only 13 percent of American Muslims are intermarried. And the number has declined in recent years: In 2011, the number was 16 percent. The numbers are so low that the word intermarriage doesnt even appear in the survey.

But another statistic shows that American Muslims may be following their Jewish neighbors. Among Muslims born in the U.S., the intermarriage rate is nearly 20 percent.

Most Jews say they dont face discrimination. Most Muslims say they do.

Another reason for the difference in intermarriage rates could be the discrimination that Jews and Muslims each face in America. Jews, who are more likely to marry outside their group, are also more accepted in America than Muslims.

In an age when Trump the candidate called for a ban on Muslim immigration, the Muslim study focused heavily on Muslim feelings of discrimination and belonging in America. Questions were asked about Islamophobia, anti-Muslim violence, the president, terrorism, extremism and how Muslims feel about being Muslim and American.

In brief, the study found that nearly half of Muslims have faced discrimination in the past year, and 75 percent feel Muslims face a great deal discrimination in America. But nine in 10 feel proud to be American. Three-quarters of American Muslims say violence against civilians can never be justified, as opposed to 59 percent of Americans in general.

In 2013, most Jews said that Jews do not face a lot of discrimination in America, and only 15 percent personally faced discrimination in the year before the survey.

But Pews Jewish study was published three years before the spike in anti-Semitism that accompanied the 2016 election. A poll by the Anti-Defamation League published in April revealed starkly different numbers, showing that most Americans were concerned about violence against Jews.

Jews graduate college at higher rates than Muslims and earn more.

The graduation rates and household incomes of American Muslims track with the rest of the country. Like Americans in general, 31 percent of Muslim Americans have graduated college. And a quarter of Muslim Americans earn more than $100,000, similar to the national average. But 40 percent of Muslim households earn less than $30,000 eight points higher than Americans in general.

Nearly six in 10 American Jews, meanwhile, have graduated college. And 42 percent have household incomes higher than $100,000, while only 20 percent earn less than $30,000.

Muslims are far more religious than Jews, but both say social justice is central.

American Jews and Muslims are particularly different when it comes to religion. While nearly two-thirds of American Muslims say religion is very important to them, only a quarter of Jews do. A third of Jews believe in God, compared to 85 percent of Muslims who said belief in God is essential to being a Muslim. Nearly six in 10 American Muslims say following the Quran is essential to being a Muslim, compared to less than a quarter of American Jews who say the same about Jewish law.

Four in 10 American Muslims attend mosque at least once a week and eight in 10 observe the monthlong fast of Ramadan. By contrast, two-thirds of American Jews attend synagogue less than once a month and only about half fasted on Yom Kippur.

But there are some commonalities, too. Nearly all American Jews and Muslims say they are proud to be Jewish and Muslim, respectively. And both groups prioritize social justice. Solid majorities of Jews (60 percent) and Muslims (69 percent) see working for justice and equality as an essential part of their religious identity.

Jews are more liberal than Muslims, but a higher percentage voted for Trump.

American Muslims responded to Trumps anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail by voting for Clinton. Nearly 80 percent of American Muslims voted for the Democrat, while only 8 percent backed Trump. By contrast, Clinton earned 70 percent of the Jewish vote, with Trump garnering 25 percent.

But proportionally more American Jews identify as liberal than do American Muslims. While nearly half of American Jews call themselves liberal, only 30 percent of American Muslims do close to the national average.

But Muslims are trending liberal on at least one issue: A majority believe homosexuality should be accepted in society, compared to just 27 percent who felt that way a decade ago. Four-fifths of American Jews agree.

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Compared To Jews, American Muslims Intermarry Far Less And Are More Devout – Forward

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Are You a ‘Good Jew’ or a ‘Bad Jew’? Too Many US Progressives Want to Know – Haaretz

The anti-Zionism test for Jews is exclusionary at best, Jew-hatred at worst. And it cripples alliances to challenge both injustices against Palestinians and America’s creeping fascism

Ive spent the better part of my rabbinate -stretching over 20 years between New York, Oakland, and now Massachusetts -dedicated to social justice work. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those whove taught and mentored me, wise and thoughtful activists who have pushed me to recognize and challenge my own privilege, especially as a white, cisgender male rabbi. The anti-oppression principles and practices theyve taught me are deep and varied.

For instance, Ive learned that its insulting to generalize feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to a whole group. Ive learned that, to challenge oppression, its essential to center the voices of marginalized peoples. Ive learned that challenging systems of oppression requires us to measure “impact versus intent”, that words informed by racism and sexism can create psychic pain even when the speaker doesnt intend them that way. Ive learned that those in privileged positions need to honor the lived experiences of marginalized people, rather than challenging or invalidating those experiences. Ive learned that being part of the solution means receiving difficult feedback as a gift.

But a funny thing happened on the way to our collective liberation. We seem to have left out the Jews.

A good number of my non-Jewish activist friends and teachers actively confront anti-Jewish bias. But theres a troubling tendency among progressive activists to forget their own powerful teachings when it comes to Jews.

For instance, anti-oppression principles teach us not to generalize the behaviors of one person to a whole group. But I have stepped off of more than one stage – speaking against the harassment of immigrants or the extrajudicial killings of people of color – only to be confronted by a stranger demanding to know “my thoughts on Palestine.” As if every Jews bears the guilt of any and all Israeli injustices against Palestine.

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And, instead of centering the voices of Jews as a marginalized people, too many progressives neglect to make space for Jews to discuss their experience of anti-Jewish oppression. Moreover, Jews are almost never invited to identify or discuss their relationship to the term “Zionism,” let alone articulate their own personal visions of Jewish nationalism.

Unjust actions of the State of Israel, like any state, require scrutiny and, when appropriate, condemnation. I have joined voices, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that have criticized Israeli treatment of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. But for many of my fellow justice advocates, the message to Jews boils down to a binary: either anti-Zionism or the door.

And when the lived experience of millions of Jews is a personal affinity for Israel, to set anti-Zionism is a litmus test for participating in anti-oppression movements is exclusionary at best and Jew-hatred at worst.

And finally, instead of receiving difficult feedback from like-minded Jews about messaging and language with open hearts, too many progressives discount them as irrelevant, or dismiss them as efforts to silence criticism of Israel.

The most notorious recent example is the Chicago Dyke Marchs inadvertent use of a Neo-Nazi slur, “Zios,: to defend their exclusion of Jewish symbols and chants that they deemed inappropriate. When called out on the violent history of the term, the response was a tweet that opened with a breezy, “Sorry yall!” But “Zio” is a term that does not direct its verbal violence against “yall” it targets only Jews. There was no indication that the group has committed itself to the hard work of rooting out the anti-Jewish bias that could allow such hate speech to be used.

This lack of curiosity, this refusal to learn about the insidious history of Jew-hatred, this refusal to integrate critical voices: From what I have learned in deep conversation with colleagues and teachers, all of these are hallmarks of privilege.

If white people dont get to tell people of color the right way to fight for liberation, if cis and straight people dont get to tell queer folks which expressions of gender and sexuality are “appropriate,” then it follows that non-Jews dont get to tell Jews what symbols and messages are in bounds and which are out of bounds.

Which raises the question: why are there litmus tests and special rules of entry for Jews into anti-oppression movements – requirements for Jews to be accepted in intersectional campaigns and a policing of what constitutes an acceptable Jewish identity – and not for any other group?

Some have made a compelling case in favor of special scrutiny of Jews because of U.S. aid to Israel. Yet Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are also recipients of substantial U.S. aid, and Arab activists are not held to account for injustices in those lands by progressive activists. Anti-oppression activists are often first to point out the Islamophobia inherent in right-wing demands that U.S. Arabs and Muslims condemn totalitarianism in Arab states. And rightly so.

Dont Jews deserve the same respect and consideration?

In the mean time, there are Jewish activists who have taken a different lesson. Last month, Jewish Voice for Peace unveiled a campaign and hashtag, #deadlyexchange, rightly questioning the ethics of U.S.-Israel security exchanges. But the video accompanying the campaign claims that the driving force behind U.S. policing practices are Jews, a shocking blood libel placing the blame for police violence in black and brown communities not on centuries of American white supremacy, but squarely at the feet of Jews.

It is not surprising that progressives who would censure expressions of Jewish ideology and symbolism would flirt with actual expressions of blatant Jew-hatred.

This would all be troubling in a normal political climate. But, as we know, this marginalization of Jews is playing out against the backdrop of repressive regimes both in the United States and Israel. At a time of creeping American fascism, is dividing Jews into the useful and the non-useful, allies and enemies, really the best way forward?

Rather, doesnt it cripple the very alliances that need to be strengthened amongst progressives?

And at a time when the Netanyahu government is showing less and less willingness to move toward anything that looks like justice – when Gazans have electricity for just two hours a day, and non-Orthodox Judaism has equality in Israeli culture for no hours a day – is creating a progressive purity squad really the best way forward?

Rather, doesnt singling out Jews for special scrutiny play right into Netanyahus hands? Doesnt it reinforce the cynical claim that everyone hates the Jews anyway, so “nothing we do for the Palestinians will ever be enough?”

Justice for marginalized people in both the U.S. and Israel/Palestine is long overdue. I pray that I am contributing in some small way to that struggle. I pray, too, that my progressive allies learn the lessons that theyve taught me, and honor the Jews standing next to them in that struggle.

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum serves Congregation Beth Elohim, in Acton, Massachusetts. He lives with his husband, Yiddish singer Anthony Russell, in Concord.Twitter:@rav_mike

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Are You a ‘Good Jew’ or a ‘Bad Jew’? Too Many US Progressives Want to Know – Haaretz

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Jews once fought and died for voting rights. Here’s why some are still at it. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party supporters demonstrate for voting rights outside the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J. Some hold signs with portraits of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. (Warren K. Leffler/Wikimedia Commons) NEW YORK (JTA) Andrew GoodmanandMichael Schwernerare about the closest American Jews have to secular saints. The two Jewish civil rights workers traveled south for the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, joining the African-American activist James Chaney in canvassing black churches. All three were kidnapped and murdered by a lynch mob. Forty-three years ago next Friday, Aug. 4, their bullet-riddled bodies were found buried in a dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi, 44 days after their disappearance. The hagiographies of the two Jewish men, both in their 20s, sometimes overlook the specific purpose of their trip to the Jim Crow South: registering African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. Freedom Summer was meant to directly confrontefforts, legal and otherwise, to prevent blacks from voting: poll taxes and literacy tests, fear and intimidation, and as Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney found out, beatings and lynchings. As the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, described the mission, the inability to vote was only one of many problems blacks encountered in the racist society around them, but the civil-rights officials who decided to zero in on voter registration understood its crucial significance as well the white supremacists did. An African American voting bloc would be able to effect social and political change. It was the unfinished business of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney that animated 24 faith groups, 17 of them Jewish, to write a letter to Congress urging lawmakers not to fund the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity the Orwellian name for President Donald Trumps effort to hunt down those 3 million illegal ballots that he claims illicitly cost him the popular vote. Thats Trumps agenda, anyway. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other commission members say they merely want to gauge the extent of the problem and propose remedies. Kobach has already signaled the kinds of remedies he has in mind: imposing strict voter identificationlaws; removing names from voter rolls perhaps using inaccurate or unreliable databases; identifying potential duplicate registration records that use a notoriously misleading instrument; or just failing to enforce existing laws that have expanded individuals right to vote. Sure, such remedies might end up suppressing the votes of poor people, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly (and, what do you know, Democrats) in fact, nearly all reliable studies and multiplecourt cases say they will. But, according to Kobach and company, thats the price to be paid for, well, integrity. This FBI poster was circulated before the bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were found. (Wikimedia Commons) The voting commission is a solution in search of a problem. Voting by non-citizens isvanishingly rare. Trumps claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 elections were baseless, as the faith coalition notes. There are no reputable studies to suggest that U.S. elections have been compromised by fraudulent voting by undocumented immigrants, felons, double voters or dead voters. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a Voter Fraud Database it says shows incontrovertible evidence that voter fraud is a real and pressing issue, lists only1,071 instances of voter fraud going back to 1981. Americans have cast over 1 billion votes during that period in presidential elections alone. Rather than pointing to evidence that suggests otherwise because it cant the administration offers something else: doubt.We may never know if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election, Kobach told MSNBC.Responding to reports that more than 40 states rejected intrusive requests for massive amounts of data on its voters, Trump said this month, If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what theyre worried about. The assumption of the commission is that voter fraud is real and widespread; the onus is on everyone else to prove it isnt. Late-night comics giggle at Trumps propensity for creating alternative realities, whether it was his campaign claim that America was experiencing an unprecedented crime wave or this weeks tweetssaying that transgender service members are a financial drain on the military. Fitting this pattern is his and his teams ongoing refusal to accept the conclusion by the top four intelligence agencies that Russian interference in the 2016 election was real and significant. On Monday, top presidential adviser Jared Kushner emerged from his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to declare that accusations of Russian meddling and administration collusion with the Russians are an insult to Trumps voters. Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won, Kushner said. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him. In other words: No matter what the CIA, FBI and National Security Council tell us, Russian interference in the presidential election is a non-issue. But the unfounded reports of voter fraud are worth a federally funded commission. Unlike the talk show hosts, civil rights activists and other fans of representative democracy arent laughing. Taxpayer funds should go towards efforts to encourage voter participation, the faith coalition said in its letter, rather than a commission intended to restrict voting rights. Some have memories of how hard Jews fought alongside blacks to secure voting rights. Others believe, as the coalition put it, that their religion teaches them to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people especially the sacred right to vote. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a federal lawsuit calling the presidents election commission a pretext for the suppression of black and Latino voters. Obviously this is a calamity for Democrats, who already are seeing evidence that laws making it harder to vote are having a disproportionate effect on their constituents. But this should also be an issue for Jews who support the president and wish he would get on with the business of addressing actual problems, from infrastructure to job creation to regulatory overreach. Theres been a debate over the years about whether or not Goodman and Schwerner were part of the Jewish story. At a big Jewish conference a number of years ago, I heard the head of what is now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs declare, When Goodman and Schwerner went south for Freedom Summer, they were doing Jewish!’ Others questioned then, and still question today, why so many Jewish activists pursue universalist causes in the name of tikkun olam rather than working on issues that will specifically benefit Israel or their fellow Jews. Goodman and Schwerner were of a generation that did not distinguish between policies that were good for them and those that were good for us. Jews were only just emerging from decades in which discrimination against them was both legal and tolerated. They knew that rights won slowly could be taken away quickly, and that if any minority was at risk, then all minorities were at risk. The organizations that backed Freedom Summer understood the power of coalitions in pursuing their own particularist agendas. You can call it enlightened self-interest, but maybe thats just another name for tikkun olam.

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Libyan Jews fret over Jewish artifacts – Intermountain Jewish News

Tripolis Corinthia Hotel appears behind the abandoned Dar Bishi synagogue in the Libyan capital on September 28, 2011. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) TRIPOLI Gina Waldman was forced to flee her native Libya in 1967 as anti-Jewish mobs took to the streets of Tripoli, burning down her fathers warehouse. Waldman, like thousands of other Libyan Jews who left the country amid public and state-sponsored anti-Semitism in the 20th century, was forced to leave behind both personal belongings she was only allowed to bring a single suitcase with her and a rich cultural heritage that testified to over 2,000 years of Jewish presence in the North African country. Today no Jews remain in Libya. That heritage including synagogues, cemeteries and ritual objects has long been under threat. But now an additional obstacle is coming from an unlikely place, said Waldman, president and co-founder of the group Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, or JIMENA. The threat stems from a memorandum of understanding request by the Libyan government currently under consideration by the State Department that would prohibit artifacts dated 1911 and earlier, including Jewish ritual objects, from being brought into the US from Libya. That would mean that anyone attempting to bring in antique Torah scrolls, tombstones, books and other ritual objects would be stopped at the US border, and the objects would be confiscated and sent back to Libya. Waldman, who lives in San Francisco, called the measure very, very offensive to the Jewish community. She said the memorandum would block people from removing Jewish artifacts when the very government itself has destroyed every single synagogue, every single [Jewish] cemetery. Waldman said she is not aware of anyone having attempted to take Jewish artifacts out of Libya, or of any plans to do so. But she worries that the memorandum would affect any future efforts to recover those materials. The State Departments Cultural Property Advisory Committee convened this week to discuss and consider the request, which Libya submitted in June. It has not announced a decision. The State Department emailed JTA saying it would comment by Monday, July 24, but did not follow through. Libya claims that the request is necessary for curbing black market sales of artifacts from the country. Libyas patrimony is now under severe and continuing threat of pillage due to ongoing conflict and the rise of violent extremist groups, according to a State Department summary of the request. (The original request is not available publicly.) In addition to mentioning threats to Islamic and Berber materials, the summary specifically refers to Jewish sites being pillaged. Many of the old Jewish cemeteries and sites are being looted for antiquities to export where there is an active transit or ultimate market for these objects, it says, later adding that some Jewish materials are sold in Israel. Critics say the request is illegitimate and allows for Libya to claim ownership of various artifacts, including those that belong to its exiled Jewish community. Kate Fitz Gibbon, a lawyer who served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2002-03, spoke harshly of the memorandum. I was terrifically offended at this idea that a Middle Eastern country that has forcibly expelled all of its Jewish population should have whatever is left, she told JTA. This is the opposite of Holocaust repatriation. This is telling the survivors that they should give whats left back to the oppressors. Fitz Gibbon added that there was no proof in the State Department summary that Jewish artifacts were in fact being taken out of Libya. Last week, she spoke in opposition to the memorandum on behalf of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association at a public open session organized by the State Department. In addition to sharing objections on behalf of Jewish critics, Fitz Gibbon also said that Libya was not capable of properly preserving artifacts. The country, which has been in disarray following the 2011 fighting that toppled dictator Moammar Qadaffi, is currently under the rule of a provisional government and violent clashes continue to break out. Libya, which has no museums they have 24 museums, they are all closed no tourism, has never done cultural exchange, and in this actual request said were not going to do any cultural exchange because we dont have the money or time or the ability,there is no question that Libya doesnt even meet one of these criteria for an MOU, Fitz Gibbon said. Libyas request is not unprecedented. The US has similar agreements with 17 countries, including one reached recently with Egypt. Congress also has passed emergency laws restricting artifacts from Iraq and Syria from entering the country. Such laws draw on a 1970 UNESCO convention that allows for the placing of import and export restrictions in cases where a countrys patrimony is under threat of pillaging and its artifacts in danger of entering the black market. A similar battle is playing out with an Iraqi Jewish archive uncovered by US troops in 2003 in Baghdad. The artifacts were on tour in the US in 2014 and were supposed to be returned to Iraq, but Jewish groups objected, saying they should be in the custody of the Iraqi Jewish community, which is living outside of the country after being driven out. The case of those artifacts remains unresolved. Marc Lubin, a lawyer assisting Waldmans group, said efforts to keep Jewish artifacts in Libya or Iraq do not guarantee the preservation of the objects. As was the case with the Iraqi Jewish artifacts, the Libyan MOU legitimizes Libyas confiscation of the property of fleeing Jews by recognizing the Libyan governments legal claim to that property, Lubin told JTA in an email. It gives a green light to future desecration by prohibiting the removal of sacred items from Libya for safe-keeping. It requires Libyan Jewrys heritage remain in place as a target for fanatics, all in the name of preservation. Critics say Libyan-Jewish artifacts arent the only thing at stake. Granting the memorandum could set a precedent. JIMENA is fighting this MOU because it sets a precedent to all of the Muslim, mostly Arab countries who have desecrated and impounded all of our antiquities, all of our heritage, Waldman said. Fitz Gibbon echoed Waldmans concerns. There was recently an MOU granted for Egypt, and the past pattern for MOUs has been that one nation, then two nations, then all nations within a specific region were covered, Fitz Gibbon said. Waldman said that JIMENA is not concerned with the artifacts monetary value but rather with establishing the fact that the objects belong to the exiled Jewish community. Theyve already taken private property, and now they are going after community property and our heritage, she said. It isnt money value that we are fighting for, but it is the right to know we are the rightful owners they are not.

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Becker, Abramson found JTown to reach Jews in south suburbs – Intermountain Jewish News

Amy Becker, left, and Cindy Abramson JTown is a new organization focusing on Jews in the south suburbs who are looking for connections to other Jews and to expand their community. Co-Founders Cindy Abramson and Amy Becker are excited about this new journey saying, JTown brings Jewish people of all ages together through adult social programs, engaging family events, alternative worship experiences, and participation in meaningful social action projects. The response has been overwhelming. We are thrilled to start sharing the opportunities we have created for Jews and Jewish families to connect. Participation in JTown is different than membership organizations; there are no dues and people only pay to come to the events they choose. For a small fee, participants can become a JTowner. JTowners receive free High Holiday tickets and discounted rates at all JTown programs. Many events will be low cost or free and all programs are always open to anyone who wishes to participate. Abramson and Becker add, We believe that everyone can choose the way in which they live Jewishly. Your Jewish identity belongs to you, and whatever way is comfortable and meaningful to observe, is up to you. They added, JTown is about building relationships, making connections and constructing communities. This is what we represent and invite others to join us on this journey. JTown will host three High Holiday alternative services at The Lone Tree Hub that will include music, readings, prayers, and opportunities for reflection. JTown welcomes everyone, regardless of upbringing, level of observance, affiliation, or type of family. Abramson and Becker say JTown is a great fit for interfaith families, striving to make it equally as comfortable to both the Jewish and non-Jewish family member. Reservations must be made in advance for the High Holiday services. JTown already has many social and family events planned. JTown is putting together a team to participate in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, Sept. 23, at Coors Field. The walk is to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In addition, JTown will host a mini-mitzvah day in the spring. Information: www.jtownco.org, or Cindy Abramson or Amy Becker at info@jtownco.org or 720-920-9086.

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PartyNextDoor Deletes Tweet About Jews Selling Chains – XXLMAG.COM

Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images PartyNextDoor has kept the focus on his music for a majority of the year, but last night, his Twitter became the topic of discussion. The singer and Wild Thoughts songwriter sent out a controversial, now-deleted tweet about Jewish people, referring to them as jewelers that sell chains to the black community. The tweet was seen as anti-semiticby many social media users who came across it, with fans encouraging him to delete it. PNDs statement insinuates that he sees jewelers as mostly of the Jewish heritage, while also speaking on black people and how they react to their financial freedom by purchasing said chains. The Jewssorry the jewelers are selling dawg chains, PND writes. lol its actually funny what black people do when they have financial freedom. After deleting the tweet, the Not Nice singer claims that he was simply trolling, despite the outrage from social media. No lol I just love to troll, he writes. Tweet and delete life forever. The tweet definitely raises some eyebrows, as Party is currently signed to OVO, which is run by Drake, who is Jewish. Many are still wondering what originally inspiredthe statement from the singer, but it does follow in the footsteps of JAY-Z, who was also accused of being anti-semitic on The Story of O.J.from his 4:44 album. See the deleted tweet from PartyNextDoor below along with his explanation. See Fans Predictions for the Hip-Hop Songs That Will Rule Summer 2017 Subscribe to XXL on

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Turkey says Jews should appreciate the Ottoman Empire – The Jerusalem Post

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, June 13, 2017. . (photo credit:KAYHAN OZER/PRESIDENTIAL PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) The Jews should appreciate how good they had it under the Ottoman Empire, Turkeys Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday after Israel responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdogans comments on the Temple Mount crisis by reminding him that the days of the Ottoman Empire are over. We condemn the presumptuous statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel regarding the remarks of our president on the recent developments at al-Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount], Foreign Ministry spokesman Hseyin Mftoglu said. At the Ottoman era, communities belonging to different religions and sects lived in peaceful coexistence and enjoyed freedom of worship for centuries. In this context, Jews would be expected to know best and appreciate the unique tolerance during the Ottoman era. Mftoglu said that in Turkey today, freedom of faith and worship are also safeguarded by the state. Al-Haram al-Sharif, which is the third-most sacred site for all Muslims, ranks prominently among the highest priorities of the Islamic world, he said. Therefore, the responsibility that rests with Israel is to urgently make common sense prevail, go back to the status quo at al-Haram al-Sharif and lift all the restrictions on the freedom of worship. On Wednesday, a day after Erdogan called on Muslims the world over to defend al-Aksa, and added that the boots of IDF soldiers were dirtying the site, he said that Israels step back from the metal detector implementation that offends Muslims is right, but not enough. Speaking at an event on higher education in the Islamic world in Ankara, Erdogan continued: Israel is attempting to damage the Islamic character of Jerusalem with new practices every day by taking advantage of the current weakness of Muslims. Those who criticize Turkey whenever possible suddenly become silent when the issue is Palestine, Jerusalem, or Muslims rights or laws, he added. Those comments prompted the following response from Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon: Its absurd that the Turkish government, which occupies Northern Cyprus, brutally represses the Kurdish minority and jails journalists, lectures Israel, the only true democracy in the region. The days of the Ottoman Empire have passed. It was Nahshons statement about the Ottoman Empire, which he also said a day earlier after Erdogans first tirade regarding Jerusalem adding that Erdogans comments were delusional and distorted that triggered the response by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding how Jews should remember life under the Ottomans. Israel and Turkey reestablished full diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors in December 2016, more than five years after the MV Mavi Marmara flotilla incident sent relations between the two countries into a tailspin. Share on facebook

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

California Imam under fire after asking Allah to ‘annihilate’ Jews in sermon – Fox News

Jewish groups have asked Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate a California Imam who gave a sermon calling on Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one” — and asked for his congregants to take part in the slaughter. Imam Ammar Shahin gave the sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis, California on Friday. He asked for Allah to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel from “the filth of the Jews,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, and cited an Islamic text that calls for a Judgement Day fight between Muslims and Jews. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them, said Shahin, who spoke in both Arabic and English during his sermon. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. ORTHODOX JEWISH GRADE SCHOOL IN UK FAILS INSPECTION FOR REFUSAL TO TEACH ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION “The sermon is very antisemitic and violent, much like many sermons in the mosques of the Middle East,”MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky told Fox News in a statement. “It is not surprising that the imam/mosque are denying this and saying that it is incorrect or out of context. In fact, there were two different sermons from California mosques this week, both of them calling for destroying/annihilating the Jews.” A video of the sermon was posted to the Islamic Center of Davis YouTube channel on Friday. Excerpts of the sermon, which lasted about two and a half minutes, were translated and posted on the MEMRI website. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is on a holy site for both Jews and Muslims in East Jerusalem, and was the scene of a July 14 terror attack during which three Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police officers. The shrine was closed for several days in the aftermath of the assault, canceling Friday prayers for the first time in decades. New security measures, including metal detectors, were installed, and immediately drew Palestinian condemnation. Israel said the security measures were necessary to prevent more attacks, while Palestinians claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site. The issue has sparked some of the worst street clashes in years. US MUSLIMS SEE FRIENDLY NEIGHBORS, BUT A FOE IN WHITE HOUSE In a statement on itswebsite, the Islamic Center of Davis stood behind Shahin and his sermon, saying it was taken out of context. The ICD will always stand against anti-Semitism similarly to how the Jewish community has always stood against Islamophobia in our close knit community, the statement said. We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry. It continued: MEMRI, an extremist agenda driven organization that supports Israels occupation of Palestinian land, and other Islamophobic news organizations, accused Imam Shahin of anti-Semitism, quoting edited, mistranslated, passages of the sermon out of context. In another statement to theDavid Enterprise, the center said the sermon described the theological issue regarding the apocalyptic battle between Jesus and the Antichrist, or between good and evil not against any particular group. When people believe in Jesus and hold on to the truth, God will support them. This was the purpose of citing the prophetic tradition, the center said. In the context of the full sermon, it becomes clear that the theme of the sermon was against oppression, and not against Jews or any religion. Steve Cohan, co-president of Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis, said in a statement that Shahins sermon was deeply concerning but that he looked forward to going beyond the online media reports and sharing his thoughts with the Islamic Center leadership. But not everyone is being quite so understanding of Shahin’s rhetoric. TheSimon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization in Los Angeles, has called upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation of the Imam for inciting to murder Jews. By explicitly urging Muslims to annihilate all Jews by their own hands, Shahin has crossed the line beyond protected speech, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Alderstein, both SWC directors, wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Hamza El-Nakhal, a longtime member of the Muslim community in Davis and a former president of the Islamic Centers executive board, told the Davis Enterprise that he found the video disturbing. He said he was out of town and did not attend the Friday service. While I am disgusted by the action of the Israeli government in preventing Muslim people from doing their prayers in the Masjid Al-Aqsa, I am equally disgusted by any religious leader who does not take the chance (during) high unsettling times to calm their congregations, El-Nakhal said. Some people like Imam Ammar Shahin become angry for injustices. He spoke while angry. He should not have given this sermon while angry. Fox News’ Pamela Browne and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

26 Jews flee Venezuelan crisis to Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Michal Levy with her 3 children and IFCJ coordinator for aliya from Latin America Debbie Ashkenazi (right) at Ben Gurion Airport on July 26, 2017. (photo credit:IFCJ) Twenty-six Jews from Venezuela immigrated to Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, part of a general surge in emigration from the country as its political and economic crises have paralyzed parts of the nation. While thousands of their countrymen are heading over the borders to other Latin American countries, some Jewish Venezuelans have opted to use their eligibility for citizenship in Israel. On July 30, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is holding a vote to create a legislative super-body that would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions. Near daily anti-government protests since April have seen masked youths with stones, Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars battling riot police using tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets. The situation is very hard, Michal Levy, 35, told The Jerusalem Post over the phone from Ben-Gurion Airport shortly after arriving in Israel with her three children on Wednesday on one of two flights organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Seven families arrived on the two flights. Its hard to get basic things like bread and flour, Levy said, adding that she had been afraid to leave the house due to the riots and for fear that a member of her family could be kidnapped for ransom a common phenomenon in the country. Levys son suffers from a skin allergy for which he requires medication, but she had not been able to obtain any recently. Three months ago we understood we couldnt continue living here, she said. For more than a week you cant leave the house its not simple. Levy is a returning Israeli citizen, having left for Venezuela five-and-a-half years ago for her husbands work. She taught at a Jewish school in Caracas and described the Jewish community as very supportive. She said many in the community are wealthy though there is a range of socioeconomic status among them and they always help one another obtain ransom money if there is a kidnapping in the community, making them a desirable target. Members of the community are constantly leaving the country, some to Panama or the US, others to Israel. Levys family is heading to Rishon Lezion. I know it will be better for my children here, at home, and thats whats important, she said. In contrast to Levys remark, the Fellowship maintains that while the majority of the Jewish community in Venezuela used to be wealthy, most of those who had the means have left the country. Several of the families who made aliya were in severe economic distress, the organization noted. An estimated 5,000-9,000 Jews remain in Venezuela. Within that community, the Fellowship says, are some 1,400 elderly and some 500 children. Seven hundred families, it says, are supported by community welfare agencies. In addition to the absorption benefits all immigrants receive from the State of Israel, the Fellowship funds the Venezuelans flights to Israel and grants them $400 per child and $800 per adult. The Fellowship also assists the immigrants for half a year, helping place the children in educational institutions and providing social and welfare assistance. By the end of 2017, the Fellowship expects to have brought 100 immigrants from Venezuela. The Fellowship is focused on helping Jews around the world who are in financial or security distress and helping them immigrate to Israel and build a new and safe life, said the president of the Fellowship, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. For the last year and a half, the Fellowship has helped 200 Jews immigrate to Israel and is also helping the Jewish community by providing them with medicines that are unobtainable there, he added. Reuters contributed to this report. Share on facebook

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Compared To Jews, American Muslims Intermarry Far Less And Are More Devout – Forward

NEW YORK (JTA) Since it came out in 2013, the Pew study a landmark survey of American Jewish demographics, beliefs and practices has been at the center of American Jewish scrutiny and handwringing. Now its American Muslims turn. On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released a survey of American Muslims focusing not only on numbers and their way of life, but also on how the community has responded to the election of President Donald Trump. Comparing the two studies shows a Muslim sector in America that is more religious, growing faster and feels more embattled than American Jews. But both groups voted for Hillary Clinton. Heres how the Jews and Muslims of the United States stack up. There are more Jews than Muslims in America, but the Muslim population is growing faster. Pew found that there are about 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, a little more than 1 percent of the population. U.S. Jews, by contrast, stand at 5.3 million around 2 percent of all Americans. But Muslims, Pew found, skew younger and have higher birth rates. More than a third of U.S. Muslims are under 30, only 14 percent are over 55 and their birth rate is 2.4, slightly higher than the national average. Most American Jews are over 50 and their birth rate is 1.9. While the median age of U.S. Muslims is 35, the median age of U.S. Jews is 50. Americans in general have a median age of 47. These numbers explain why a 2015 Pew study found that by 2050, American Muslims will outnumber American Jews. While the Jewish population is expected to stagnate at about 5.4 million, Pew predicts that in a little more than three decades, there will be 8 million Muslims in America. The respective studies also included some data unique to each religion. While there are sharp internal divides between Shia and Sunni Muslims, Pew did not address the question of who is a Muslim as it did with Jewish Americans. The study reported demographic data that may contradict popular American stereotypes of Muslims. Only 14 percent of Muslim immigrants are from the Middle East, while one-fifth are from South Asia. And the plurality of American Muslims four in 10 are white. Only 13 percent of American Muslims are intermarried. When Pew released its study of the Jews in 2013, American Jewish leaders began fretting about an intermarriage rate of 58 percent since 2000 and they havent stopped. By that measure, American Muslim leaders can rest easy. Unlike the majority of American Jews, only 13 percent of American Muslims are intermarried. And the number has declined in recent years: In 2011, the number was 16 percent. The numbers are so low that the word intermarriage doesnt even appear in the survey. But another statistic shows that American Muslims may be following their Jewish neighbors. Among Muslims born in the U.S., the intermarriage rate is nearly 20 percent. Most Jews say they dont face discrimination. Most Muslims say they do. Another reason for the difference in intermarriage rates could be the discrimination that Jews and Muslims each face in America. Jews, who are more likely to marry outside their group, are also more accepted in America than Muslims. In an age when Trump the candidate called for a ban on Muslim immigration, the Muslim study focused heavily on Muslim feelings of discrimination and belonging in America. Questions were asked about Islamophobia, anti-Muslim violence, the president, terrorism, extremism and how Muslims feel about being Muslim and American. In brief, the study found that nearly half of Muslims have faced discrimination in the past year, and 75 percent feel Muslims face a great deal discrimination in America. But nine in 10 feel proud to be American. Three-quarters of American Muslims say violence against civilians can never be justified, as opposed to 59 percent of Americans in general. In 2013, most Jews said that Jews do not face a lot of discrimination in America, and only 15 percent personally faced discrimination in the year before the survey. But Pews Jewish study was published three years before the spike in anti-Semitism that accompanied the 2016 election. A poll by the Anti-Defamation League published in April revealed starkly different numbers, showing that most Americans were concerned about violence against Jews. Jews graduate college at higher rates than Muslims and earn more. The graduation rates and household incomes of American Muslims track with the rest of the country. Like Americans in general, 31 percent of Muslim Americans have graduated college. And a quarter of Muslim Americans earn more than $100,000, similar to the national average. But 40 percent of Muslim households earn less than $30,000 eight points higher than Americans in general. Nearly six in 10 American Jews, meanwhile, have graduated college. And 42 percent have household incomes higher than $100,000, while only 20 percent earn less than $30,000. Muslims are far more religious than Jews, but both say social justice is central. American Jews and Muslims are particularly different when it comes to religion. While nearly two-thirds of American Muslims say religion is very important to them, only a quarter of Jews do. A third of Jews believe in God, compared to 85 percent of Muslims who said belief in God is essential to being a Muslim. Nearly six in 10 American Muslims say following the Quran is essential to being a Muslim, compared to less than a quarter of American Jews who say the same about Jewish law. Four in 10 American Muslims attend mosque at least once a week and eight in 10 observe the monthlong fast of Ramadan. By contrast, two-thirds of American Jews attend synagogue less than once a month and only about half fasted on Yom Kippur. But there are some commonalities, too. Nearly all American Jews and Muslims say they are proud to be Jewish and Muslim, respectively. And both groups prioritize social justice. Solid majorities of Jews (60 percent) and Muslims (69 percent) see working for justice and equality as an essential part of their religious identity. Jews are more liberal than Muslims, but a higher percentage voted for Trump. American Muslims responded to Trumps anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail by voting for Clinton. Nearly 80 percent of American Muslims voted for the Democrat, while only 8 percent backed Trump. By contrast, Clinton earned 70 percent of the Jewish vote, with Trump garnering 25 percent. But proportionally more American Jews identify as liberal than do American Muslims. While nearly half of American Jews call themselves liberal, only 30 percent of American Muslims do close to the national average. But Muslims are trending liberal on at least one issue: A majority believe homosexuality should be accepted in society, compared to just 27 percent who felt that way a decade ago. Four-fifths of American Jews agree.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Are You a ‘Good Jew’ or a ‘Bad Jew’? Too Many US Progressives Want to Know – Haaretz

The anti-Zionism test for Jews is exclusionary at best, Jew-hatred at worst. And it cripples alliances to challenge both injustices against Palestinians and America’s creeping fascism Ive spent the better part of my rabbinate -stretching over 20 years between New York, Oakland, and now Massachusetts -dedicated to social justice work. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those whove taught and mentored me, wise and thoughtful activists who have pushed me to recognize and challenge my own privilege, especially as a white, cisgender male rabbi. The anti-oppression principles and practices theyve taught me are deep and varied. For instance, Ive learned that its insulting to generalize feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to a whole group. Ive learned that, to challenge oppression, its essential to center the voices of marginalized peoples. Ive learned that challenging systems of oppression requires us to measure “impact versus intent”, that words informed by racism and sexism can create psychic pain even when the speaker doesnt intend them that way. Ive learned that those in privileged positions need to honor the lived experiences of marginalized people, rather than challenging or invalidating those experiences. Ive learned that being part of the solution means receiving difficult feedback as a gift. But a funny thing happened on the way to our collective liberation. We seem to have left out the Jews. A good number of my non-Jewish activist friends and teachers actively confront anti-Jewish bias. But theres a troubling tendency among progressive activists to forget their own powerful teachings when it comes to Jews. For instance, anti-oppression principles teach us not to generalize the behaviors of one person to a whole group. But I have stepped off of more than one stage – speaking against the harassment of immigrants or the extrajudicial killings of people of color – only to be confronted by a stranger demanding to know “my thoughts on Palestine.” As if every Jews bears the guilt of any and all Israeli injustices against Palestine. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. And, instead of centering the voices of Jews as a marginalized people, too many progressives neglect to make space for Jews to discuss their experience of anti-Jewish oppression. Moreover, Jews are almost never invited to identify or discuss their relationship to the term “Zionism,” let alone articulate their own personal visions of Jewish nationalism. Unjust actions of the State of Israel, like any state, require scrutiny and, when appropriate, condemnation. I have joined voices, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that have criticized Israeli treatment of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. But for many of my fellow justice advocates, the message to Jews boils down to a binary: either anti-Zionism or the door. And when the lived experience of millions of Jews is a personal affinity for Israel, to set anti-Zionism is a litmus test for participating in anti-oppression movements is exclusionary at best and Jew-hatred at worst. And finally, instead of receiving difficult feedback from like-minded Jews about messaging and language with open hearts, too many progressives discount them as irrelevant, or dismiss them as efforts to silence criticism of Israel. The most notorious recent example is the Chicago Dyke Marchs inadvertent use of a Neo-Nazi slur, “Zios,: to defend their exclusion of Jewish symbols and chants that they deemed inappropriate. When called out on the violent history of the term, the response was a tweet that opened with a breezy, “Sorry yall!” But “Zio” is a term that does not direct its verbal violence against “yall” it targets only Jews. There was no indication that the group has committed itself to the hard work of rooting out the anti-Jewish bias that could allow such hate speech to be used. This lack of curiosity, this refusal to learn about the insidious history of Jew-hatred, this refusal to integrate critical voices: From what I have learned in deep conversation with colleagues and teachers, all of these are hallmarks of privilege. If white people dont get to tell people of color the right way to fight for liberation, if cis and straight people dont get to tell queer folks which expressions of gender and sexuality are “appropriate,” then it follows that non-Jews dont get to tell Jews what symbols and messages are in bounds and which are out of bounds. Which raises the question: why are there litmus tests and special rules of entry for Jews into anti-oppression movements – requirements for Jews to be accepted in intersectional campaigns and a policing of what constitutes an acceptable Jewish identity – and not for any other group? Some have made a compelling case in favor of special scrutiny of Jews because of U.S. aid to Israel. Yet Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are also recipients of substantial U.S. aid, and Arab activists are not held to account for injustices in those lands by progressive activists. Anti-oppression activists are often first to point out the Islamophobia inherent in right-wing demands that U.S. Arabs and Muslims condemn totalitarianism in Arab states. And rightly so. Dont Jews deserve the same respect and consideration? In the mean time, there are Jewish activists who have taken a different lesson. Last month, Jewish Voice for Peace unveiled a campaign and hashtag, #deadlyexchange, rightly questioning the ethics of U.S.-Israel security exchanges. But the video accompanying the campaign claims that the driving force behind U.S. policing practices are Jews, a shocking blood libel placing the blame for police violence in black and brown communities not on centuries of American white supremacy, but squarely at the feet of Jews. It is not surprising that progressives who would censure expressions of Jewish ideology and symbolism would flirt with actual expressions of blatant Jew-hatred. This would all be troubling in a normal political climate. But, as we know, this marginalization of Jews is playing out against the backdrop of repressive regimes both in the United States and Israel. At a time of creeping American fascism, is dividing Jews into the useful and the non-useful, allies and enemies, really the best way forward? Rather, doesnt it cripple the very alliances that need to be strengthened amongst progressives? And at a time when the Netanyahu government is showing less and less willingness to move toward anything that looks like justice – when Gazans have electricity for just two hours a day, and non-Orthodox Judaism has equality in Israeli culture for no hours a day – is creating a progressive purity squad really the best way forward? Rather, doesnt singling out Jews for special scrutiny play right into Netanyahus hands? Doesnt it reinforce the cynical claim that everyone hates the Jews anyway, so “nothing we do for the Palestinians will ever be enough?” Justice for marginalized people in both the U.S. and Israel/Palestine is long overdue. I pray that I am contributing in some small way to that struggle. I pray, too, that my progressive allies learn the lessons that theyve taught me, and honor the Jews standing next to them in that struggle. Rabbi Michael Rothbaum serves Congregation Beth Elohim, in Acton, Massachusetts. He lives with his husband, Yiddish singer Anthony Russell, in Concord.Twitter:@rav_mike Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed


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