Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Keep $60,000 in Donations from Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a rally of hundreds of union members in support of IBEW Local 3 (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) at Cadman Plaza Park, September 18, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. More than 1800 members of IBEW Local 3 are entering their sixth month of a strike in a contract dispute with Charter Communications/Spectrum. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will keep over $60,000 in donations from disgraced media executive Harvey Weinstein, despite growing allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Keep $60,000 in Donations from Harvey Weinstein

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October 13, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Oscar-Winning Director Oliver Stone Accused of Sexual Assault

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As more and more women step forward to give public testimony about their alleged abuse at the hands of Hollywood power — Harvey Weinstein, Ben Affleck, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price — more and more women are coming out about their alleged abuse at the hands of Hollywood power.

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Oscar-Winning Director Oliver Stone Accused of Sexual Assault

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October 13, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Keeping Jews Jewish in cyberspace – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

Sponsor Content: Willie Sutton, the notorious criminal, was once asked why he robbed banks. He reportedly quipped, Because thats where the money is! With a world tethered to iPhones, tablets and laptops, Willies lesson has not been lost on missionaries targeting the Jewish community for conversion. For years theyve declared that the Internet is now their most fertile field for evangelism.

Recognizing that cyberspace has become the front line in the struggle for Jewish hearts and minds, Jews for Judaism launched its unique YouTube channel five years ago. More than 200 videos have been produced, covering issues from Jewish meditation to critical responses to missionary claims, and are being viewed over 2,000 times a day. Feedback has often been dramatic.

Sharon recently shared her incredible story. Three years ago she met Robert and began dating him. Unbeknownst to her, Robert was a trained missionary who moved to her city to work for an organization seeking to convert Jews. On their third date, Sharon discovered this and was understandably both upset and confused. She didnt want to end their relationship and suggested that they explore their religious differences.

While searching online, they came across the 15-part Jews for Judaism Counter-Missionary Seminar and used it for their study of the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Sharon and Robert spent months going over the material, debating and thinking. Ultimately, Robert found the videos so compelling that he began to consider Judaism as an option. After two years of further study, he converted to Judaism and they married. Today, Robert and Sharon are committed to living and growing together in their Judaism.

One special playlist on the YouTube channel was developed for deaf Jews. This population is particularly vulnerable to missionary efforts directed at them and very few Jewish resources are available to help the Jewish deaf. Education Director Rabbi Michael Skobac has produced seven videos, simultaneously signed on a split screen, focusing on Jewish spirituality and counter-missionary content.

A serious challenge to Jewish identity, particularly on college and university campuses, is the growing impact of anti-Israel propaganda and the BDS movement. Jewish students are often poorly prepared for and intimidated by this hostility. To help inspire young Jews to be more knowledgeable and confident regarding Israels just cause, a new section of the YouTube channel is dedicated to educational programs focusing on the Jewish connection to Israel.

The impact of these videos is enhanced through their integration into a widespread presence on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. This allows viewers the opportunity to go beyond the videos and explore further by asking questions and engaging in an ongoing dialogue.

Positive feedback comes in each day. Sarah recently wrote, My husband and I learned so much from your YouTube lectures. I feel like we are coming home for the first time. I wanted to thank you for being a light. We are very grateful for all that you do. You inspire so many.

For info, to book a program or donate, go to www.jewsforjudaism.ca

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Keeping Jews Jewish in cyberspace – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

A trip to Portugal reveals the lives of the hidden Jews – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Were there still Jews in Portugal after the Inquisition in 1536 wiped them out? How did some survive? Where did they live? How did they keep their faith alive?

In my quest for details to add to my historical novels about Jewish identity, my husband and I took a Jewish tour of Portugal, where I attemped to answer such questions. The context for our travel was this: After the Spanish expulsion in 1492, many Jews migrated to Portugal, where they were given the mandate to convert or die.

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A trip to Portugal reveals the lives of the hidden Jews – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

White Supremacy and Jews as Racialized Other – The Good Men Project (blog)

Embed from Getty Images Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!

The estimated 1500 neo-Nazi white supremacists blared out this disgusting chant as they marched with their Tiki Torches in hand through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in protest of the scheduled removal of a statue commemorating Civil War General Robert E. Lee. This march was reminiscent of similar events held throughout Germany, and in particular, in Nuremberg during the Nazi era.

So why do self-described white supremacists target Jews, many who appear white? The answer, stemming from a long and complex history, is quite simple: Though Jewish people are members of every so-called race, even Jews of European heritage (Ashkenazim) have been and still continue to be racially othered by some dominant Christian European-heritage communities in some quarters.

For this reason, members of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups engage in religious, ethnic, and racial bigotry against all groups they consider non-white, including Jews. In other words, anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination (a.k.a. anti-Semitism) is a form of racism.

The Racialization of Jews

Looking back on the historical emergence of the concept of race, critical race theorists remind us that this concept arose concurrently with the advent of European exploration as a justification for conquest and domination of the globe beginning in the 15th century of the Common Era (CE) and reaching its apex in the early 20th century CE.

Biologists and geneticists tell us that there is often more variability within a given so-called race than between races, and that there are no essential genetic markers linked specifically to race. They assert, therefore, that race is an historical, scientific, biological myth, an idea, and that any socially-conceived physical racial markers are fictional and are not concordant with what is beyond or below the surface of the body.

Though biologists and social scientists have proven unequivocally that the concept of race is socially constructed (produced, manufactured), however, this does not negate the very real consequences people face living in societies that maintain racist policies and practices on the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and larger societal levels.

For millennia, some Christian theologians distinguished Jews as different from and inferior to Christians on religious grounds. A number of passages within the Christian Testaments were used to give justification for persecuting Jews. For example, Matthew 27:24-25, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16:

[T]he Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out, the Jews who are heedless of Gods will and enemies of their fellow man.All this time they have been making up the full measure of their guilt, and now retribution has overtaken the good of all.

They also often equated Jews to the Devil:

And Jesus said: If God were your father, you would love me[but] your father is the devil and you choose to carry out your fathers desires (John 8:44). The Jewsare Satans synagogue (Revelation 2:9). I will make those of Satans synagogue, who claim to be Jews but are lying frauds, come and fall down at your feet (Revelation 3:9).

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), born Carl Linn, (also know as the Father of Scientific Racism), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, developed a system of scientific hierarchical classification. Within this taxonomy under the label Homo sapiens, (Man), he enumerated five categories based initially on place of origin and later on skin color: Europeanus, Asiaticus, Americanus, Monstrosus, and Africanus.

Linnaeus asserted that each category was ruled by a different bodily fluid (Humors: moistures), represented by Blood (optimistic), Phlegm (sluggish), Cholor (yellow bile: prone to anger), Melancholy (black bile: prone to sadness).

Linnaeus connected each human category to a respective humor, thereby constructing the Linnaeus Taxonomy in descending order: Europeanus: sanguine (blood), pale, muscular, swift, clever, inventive, governed by laws; Asiaticus: melancholic, yellow, inflexible, severe, avaricious, dark-eyed, governed by opinions; Americanus (indigenous peoples in the Americas): choleric, copper-colored, straightforward, eager, combative, governed by customs; Monstrosus (dwarfs of the Alps, the Patagonian giant, the monorchid Hottentot): agile, fainthearted; Africanus: phlegmatic, black, slow, relaxed, negligent, governed by impulse.

Later, although Charles Darwin himself did not assert this, some of Darwins successors, referred to as Social Darwinists, hypothesized that Jews no longer were simply a separate religious, ethnic, or political group, but rather, like black Africans and other groups (including homosexuals), Jews were throwbacks to earlier stages of religious and human development. Social Darwinists forwarded a so-called racial hierarchy placing Aryans on the top, black Africans at the lower end, and other races (including Jews) at various points in between.

In Europe, by the late 19th century CE, Judaism had come to be viewed by the scientific community as a distinct racial type, with essential immutable biological characteristics a trend that increased markedly into the early 20th century CE.

Once seen as largely a religious, ethnic, or political group, Jews were increasingly constructed as members of a mixed race (a so-called mongrel or bastard race), a people who had crossed racial barriers by interbreeding with black Africans during the Jewish Diaspora. If Jews were evil, as thought by many, this evilness was genetic and could not be purged or cured. Jews converting to Christianity, therefore, could no longer solve the Jewish question.

The British psychologist, Francis Galton (1822-1911) a cousin of Charles Darwin was a founder of the Eugenics movement. In fact, Galton coined the term eugenics in 1883 from the Greek word meaning well born. Eugenicists attempted to improve qualities of a so-called race by controlling human breeding.

Galton argued that genetic predisposition determined human behavior. He proposed that the so-called elites in the British Isles were the most intelligent of all the peoples throughout the planet, while [t]he average intellectual standard of the Negro race is some two grades below our own [Anglo-Saxons]. The Australian type is at least one grade below the African Negro and The Jews are specialized for a parasitical existence upon other nations.

Galton asserted that Jews were of a lower racial form, and that they could be easily recognizable by their appearance. He also talked about a supposed cold and calculating Jewish gaze.

The U.S. writer, Madison Grant (1865-1937) codified this supposed racialization of the Jews in his influential book, The Passing of the Great Race, or The Racial Basis for European History (1916), in which he argued that Europeans comprised four distinct races: The Nordics of northwestern Europe sat atop his racial hierarchy, whom Grant considered as the natural rulers and administrators, which accounted for Englands extraordinary ability to govern justly and firmly the lower races.

Next down the racial line fell the Alpines whom Grant referred to as always and everywhere a race of peasants with a tendency toward democracy although submissive to authority. These he followed with the Mediterraneans of Southern and Eastern Europe, inferior to both the Nordics and the Alpines in bodily stamina, but superior in the field of art. Also, Grant considered the Mediterraneans superior to the Alpines in intellectual attainments, but far behind the Nordics in literature and in scientific research and discovery.

On the very bottom he placed the most inferior of all the European so-called races: the Jews. Referring specifically to the Polish Jew, Grant asserted that

the Polish Jews, whose dwarf stature, peculiar mentality and ruthless concentration on self-interest[present themselves in] swarms.

Once seen as largely a religious, ethnic, or political group, Jews were increasingly constructed as members of a mixed race (a so-called mongrel or bastard race).

Analogous to the notion in the United States that one drop of black African blood makes a person black, according to Grant, the mixture of any of the European races and a Jew is a Jew.

By the end of the 19th century CE, the popular image of the Jewish type (portrayed invariably as the Jewish male), according to Sander Gilman in his book The Jews Body, consisted of a hooked nose, curling nasal folds (ali nasi), thick prominent lips, receding forehead and chin, large ears, curly black hair, dark skin, stooped shoulders, [weak flat feet, deflated rump,] and piercing, cunning eyes. In addition, the gaze of the Jew was said to be pathological, searing, cunning, cold, and piercing.

An offshoot of Eugenics was phrenology: the study of the skull emphasizing that its size and shape determined mental abilities and character. Phrenologist practitioners held that a specific section of the Jewish or Hebrew brain was abnormally developed causing Jews to be highly interested in money.

As we know, the Nazis contrived racial arguments as a philosophical cornerstone as justification for their persecutions of Jews, as well as most people of color and people with disabilities. Jews and others they considered descendants from inferior racial stands. Nazi leadership argued vehemently that Jews were polluting the so-called Aryan race. They forced Jews to wear the yellow Star of David as a signifying marker, since to the Nazis, yellow represented a sign of race pollution.

This sentiment extended far beyond the borders of the Third Reich. For example, in 1939, the United States Congress refused to pass the Wagner-Rogers Bill, which if enacted would have permitted entry to the United States of 20,000 children from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Jewish, over existing quotas. Laura Delano Houghteling, cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and wife of the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration sternly warned:

20,000 charming children would all too soon, grow into 20,000 ugly adults.

Once constructed as the Other in European society, Jews and Jewishness while certainly not fully embraced by the ruling elite as one of their own became a sort of middle status, standing somewhere between the dominant position of the White majority and the marginal position of People of Color. And this change in Jewish ethnoracial assignment has occurred only within the last 70 or so years.

Race then must be seen constructed not as a binary with white on one side and people of color on the other, but rather as a continuum. Except by extremists on the racist right, Ashkenazim are primarily constructed in the U.S. today on the white side of the line upon this continuum, and we definitely have white privilege vis-a-vis people of color.

I would argue, however, that we do not have the degree and extent of white privilege in many sections of this country as white mainline Protestants. In fact, in some countries, for example, in Eastern Europe still today, we are not constructed as white. Obviously, so-called white supremacists and neo-Nazis believe this as well.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

‘Time for Jews to leave Europe?’ Is Barcelona’s chief rabbi right? – Fox News

The reaction ofBDS(Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)Cataloniato the terrorist onslaughts in Barcelona and across Catalonia this past week was instructive. First, it offered lip-service condemnation of the Barcelona terrorist attacks. Then, with that out of the way, it condemned the European Union for human rights violations and took aim at its real enemies especially the occupiers of Palestina:

We also do not forget the victims of military occupations, of wars and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestina, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Cote dIvoire, Burkina Faso and many other places where what happened yesterday in Barcelona is a daily occurrence.

This statement came as a stunned nation of Spain and the rest of the world mourned 14 dead and over 100 wounded, with the shocked understanding that, if not for a premature explosion in an Islamist bomb factory, hundreds more might have been murdered.

The chief rabbi of Barcelona, Meir Ben Chen, is not waiting to find out. Labeling Spain a hub of Islamist terror, he is lamenting that Europe is lost and calling on his flock to leave now.

Now authorities are belatedly trying to figure out if a localimam radicalized the 12-man cell. Whateverthe truth,BDSers would never allow a crisis to go to waste or allow the facts to get in the way. Their 24/7 goal: Demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state.

But did hatred of Jews factor into the Barcelona massacre?Apparently, it was a motivating factor for at least one key player: Moroccan-born Driss Oukabir, the legal EU resident who rented the white Fiat van used to plow down tourists in the popularLas Ramblas district.

Days before the mass murder-by-vehicle attack, Oukabir posted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tirades on social media. And was it just a coincidence that the van landed in front of a kosher restaurant (a rarity in Barcelona) called Maccabi and near another called Maoz Falafel? Only the driver of the van, who was shot and killed by authorities on Monday, may have known for sure.

The chief rabbi of Barcelona, Meir Ben Chen, is not waiting to find out.Labeling Spain a hub of Islamist terror, he is lamenting that Europe is lost and calling on his flock to leave now.

Panic? Overreaction? Maybe not. Jewish leaders in Europe are reeling from a series of recent attacks by Islamists targeting not only tourists, but also Jewish institutions, including the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the Hypercacher supermarket in Paris.

Meanwhile, bigots have had a field day in their online swamp. One tweeter declared: Jewish-engineered non-white invasion of Europe ends with Muzzies slaughtering Jews. A second speculated that it was most likely planned by Jews. A third drew the lesson that to increase our guard against Jewish Power.

But beyond Islamists and marginal online Jew-haters, anti-Semitism in the Eurozone is now also deeply embedded in the mainstream. There are areas in leading capitals, including London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm, where no Jew dares to wear a yarmulke or a Jewish star necklace in public. In Sweden, anti-Semitic attacks go virtually unchallenged and unprosecuted by authorities.

Just how deeply embedded was highlighted not long ago by Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld, a respected author and researcher on anti-Semitism who attracted headlines and criticism with his assertion that well over 150 million citizens of the European Union (population 400 million) believe Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians. Gerstenfeld based his conclusion on a poll conducted by Germanys University of Bielefeld for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation that asked 8,000 people across eight EU member states whether they agreed. On average, 40 percent responded yes.

Another report estimates that 11 million Spaniards harbor anti-Semitic views. Too many in the European Union, including major media, reflexively and habitually blame civilian Israeli communities (settlements) or Israeli self-defense against Palestinian terrorism for the spread of Islamist terrorism. And in the UK, rather than standing up for a Jewish community reeling from a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes,Jeremy Corbyns Labour Party has been rife with anti-Semitismand extreme anti-Israel antipathy.

Today, the anti-Jewish bigotry among Islamists who preach bullying, violence and terrorism, combined with the apathy and even open hostility among ruling elites in many European societies to their Jewish neighbors, renders useless the post-World War II pledge of Never Again.

Unless European leaders of state, culture and media dramatically change course,Barcelonas chief rabbi may be right. For the Jews, at least, Europe is lost.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean, Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter.

Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Trump admin’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Tahlequah Daily Press

WASHINGTON – What Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner did last week – or, rather, what they didn’t do – is a shanda.

They’ll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trump’s administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not “very fine people,” as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing.

All three let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what Trump said – Kushner even got out word that he and his wife, Ivanka, had counseled Trump otherwise – but none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare.

We have seen such a character before in Jewish history: the stadlan. The stadlan, or “court Jew,” existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king. He would dress like other members of the court, and he would beg the king for leniency toward the Jews but, ultimately, his loyalty was to the king.

I thought we were past the age of the stadlan. So did my rabbi, Danny Zemel. “These guys are the princes of American business power,” he said. “If they can’t find an ounce of moral fiber from their own Jewish past, we’re in a very sorry way.”

That past is as ancient as the Bible. Abraham argued with God, urging the Almighty not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the innocent. Moses, seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, struck the offender, buried him in the sand, and fled from Pharaoh. The daily Jewish liturgy includes the 146th Psalm, praying to a God who brings justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry, who lifts up those who are bowed, who upholds the widow and the orphan and who brings the wicked to ruin. Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner have a particular obligation as Jews, because the violent white supremacists in Charlottesville were targeting Jews with their swastikas and chants of “Jews will not replace us” and “Sieg Heil.” One of their leaders told “Vice News Tonight” it was objectionable that Trump would “give his daughter to a Jew.” A few stood outside a synagogue brandishing rifles, forcing Sabbath worshipers to slip out a back door. But Jews, because of our recent history, know what results from silence in the face of any type of bigotry. Before Trump dabbled in anti-Semitism, he made scapegoats of immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos and, especially, Muslims. Two years ago, when I described the actions that made candidate Trump a bigot and a racist, I noted that he hadn’t yet gone after Jews. That followed soon: the tweeted image of a Star of David atop paper money, and the speech and ads linking Jews to a secret “global power structure.”

This racist demagoguery comes from the president of the U.S. In tweets Thursday, Trump proclaimed his sadness at the removal of “our beautiful” Confederate statues, and he revived the bogus claim that, a century ago, Gen. John J. Pershing dipped bullets in pig blood before shooting Muslim prisoners.

Why is it so hard to condemn such filth? David Shulkin did. Trump’s veterans affairs secretary, who is Jewish (and an Obama holdover), said what needed to be said: “I do feel like as an American and as a member of the Cabinet, that I can speak for my own personal opinions on this, and I am outraged by the behavior that I have seen with the Nazis and the white supremacists.” Shulkin said he will continue to speak. “Staying silent on these issues is not acceptable,” he said. Amen. Even the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion, Haskel Lookstein, joined in a statement saying he was “deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered.” Amen. Even Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition called for “greater moral clarity” from Trump, saying “there are no good Nazis.” Amen.

As I write this, my 13-year-old has come into my office and said the neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville synagogue make her reluctant to return to Hebrew school. She asks if our family will be a target because people know I’m Jewish. This is what Trump has done to America. And this is what Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner allow with their shameful silence. Do they prize their appointments so much? Well then, don’t quit. Speak out. Let him fire you. But don’t play the court Jew.

Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post.

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Trump admin’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Tahlequah Daily Press

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2 Israeli Jews converted to Islam, joined IS in Syria – The Times of Israel

Two Israeli Jews have converted to Islam and joined the Islamic State in Syria, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

The two were named on a list of 20 Israeli citizens, one of whom is now deceased, who joined the ranks of the jihadist group, Israels Channel 2 news reported Tuesday.

The two Israelis were born Jewish in the Soviet Union, immigrated to Israel at a young age, grew up in Israel, then converted to Islam as adults and traveled to Syria to join the ranks of IS. It was not immediately clear when the two left the country.

One, a 28-year-old woman, grew up in Ashdod. The other, Alex, a 32-year-old man, grew up in Lod.

Alexs sister, who was not identified, told the TV station the family was in shock and is not in touch with him.

The list was drawn up for Interior Minister Aryeh Deri after a law went into effect this week allowing him to strip members of foreign terror organizations of their Israeli citizenship.

The list was made up mostly of Israeli Arabs, including two each from the towns of Fureidis, Kafr Kassem, Jaljoulya, Beena and East Jerusalem.

One person on the list died recently, while the list was being drawn up.

Deri is expected to formally strip them of their citizenship in the coming weeks.

The security service periodically releases information about individual Israelis who have left the country to join IS.

In March, a Belarusian-Israeli man was arrested as he attempted to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, after expressing support for the group over the past year and a half. The suspect, Valentin Vladmir Mazlevski, a 39-year-old father of five, moved to Israel from Belarus in 1996 at age 18 and converted to Islam four years later, while he was serving in the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet said.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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2 Israeli Jews converted to Islam, joined IS in Syria – The Times of Israel

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Why some Jews are paying $500 for an Italian etrog – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Samuel Ekstein from New York City inspecting a citron fruit in Santa Maria Del Cedro, southern Italy, Sept. 14, 2016. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) Fiftyyears ago, leaders of the Chabad movement tasked Rabbi Moshe Lazar of Milan with supervising the local production and export of the Calabria etrog, the citrus fruit used by Jews during the harvest festival of Sukkot.

Lazars job is to make sure the fruit is kosher for the festival, and that local farmers arent cutting corners or using unkosher techniques to boost the yield and their profitsfor what already is Italys most lucrative citrus product.

This year Lazar, now 83, has to be particularly vigilant. A winter frost destroyed 90 percent of this years crop, creating the worst shortage he has seen in Calabria etrogs, which are named for the southern region where they are grown. Italy is one of only three major exporters of the fruit along with Israel and Morocco.

Prices for the kosher fruits, which in normal years can easily fetch $200 ahead of Sukkot, have doubled and tripled, making Chabad communities around the world who strongly favor the Calabria variety fear that they will not be able to afford or obtain a specimen to call their own.

The shortage could also tempt unscrupulous or careless farmers.

The frost just burned the fruit-producing branches, Lazar said.

Due to the shortage, Lazar this year is picking fruit he would have deemed too homely for export in normal years, just as long as the fruit is technically kosher. To be considered as such, an etrog must at least be egg-sized, yellow, elliptical, intact (including its woody stem, or pitom) and possess a tough peel.

But even using the grade B produce, there are not going to be enough Calabria etrogim to go around this year, Lazar said.

Thats bad news for Chabad communities all over the world ahead of Sukkot, which this year begins on Oct. 4. Etrogs are among four species of plants that Jews purchase for the holiday, which is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the Ukrainian city of Odessa, Rabbi Avraham Wolffs congregants are trying to buy a single Calabria etrog for $500 via a Judaica shop in the United States.

Were worried that even at this high price we wont be able to get one this holiday, Wolff told JTA. So a few of the patrons of the community got together and decided to open a fund to make sure we have enough money, cost what it may, for at least one Calabria.

In previous years, the community bought five Calabria etrogs for Sukkot to be shared by Chabad institutions in Odessa, where some 50,000 Jews live. (Under Jewish law, Jews must possess an etrog during the festival, but a loophole allows them to be shared as gifts among several people. The fruits arent eaten, but carried and held at various points during worship.)

Other communities are able to cut out middlemen by buying the fruit directly from the farmers for about $50 apiece in normal years. But this year, farmers hiked their prices, starting at $150 apiece and all the way up to $350, according to Lazars son, Berel, who is a chief rabbi of Russia. Berel Lazar travels to Calabria each year to pick etrogs from orchards and bring them back to Russia for distribution to communities across the former Soviet Union. The younger Lazar charges congregants only what he pays the farmers.

The day after Sukkot, the price of etrogs drops to $1 a pound, Berel Lazar said. Locals use the fruit to make jam and in the soap industry.

The yield on Calabria etrogs, which are also called yanover etrogim because they used to be shipped from the Italian coastal city of Genoa, makes the fruit an irresistible target for manipulation, Berel Lazar said.

Some growers attempt to increase their margins at the expense of the strict kosher standards that Moshe Lazar has enforced for 50 years. One trick is to secretly graft the relativity vulnerable etrog tree onto the trunk of a hardier citrus tree, rendering it more robust but non-kosher. A cruder ruse involves gluing fruits and branches from a non-kosher tree onto a kosher one.

And while there is an atmosphere of friendship and mutual respect between the local farmers and the small team of supervisors working with Moshe Lazar, sadly there is not a relationship of trust, Berel Lazar said. He noted that the lucrative etrog trade has not escaped the attention of the Italian mafia, which he suggested may be pressuring farmers to try to pass off non-kosher etrogs as kosher to increase profits.

Moshe Lazar, right, explaining to a visitor at an etrog orchard in Calabria in 2015 about how to pick kosher fruit. (Esrogim.info)

Although etrogs are grown in Israel, Morocco and even the United States, Berel Lazar says that the Calabria etrog is clearly and visibly superior to those strands including fruits that grow in Israel on trees descended from Calabria groves. But to Chabadniks, the preference for Calabria etrogs is also based in scripture.

According to Chabad traditions, the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, suggests that God bequeathed southern Italy to Esau, Isaacs firstborn and inheritor of earths richness, as he is designated in the book of Genesis.

This means Calabria etrogim come from the richest soil, making them the best, Berel Lazar said.

The shortage has Berel Lazar this year is sticking to a quota of 300-500 fruits for Russian communities a mere fraction of the yield in normal years, when tens of thousands of etrogs leave the orchards of Calabrias approximately 100 etrog farmers ahead of the Sukkot holiday.

I cant pick as many as I want and send them all to Russia when the rest of the world is left without, he said.

Virtually all Chabad communities eagerly await the Calabria etrogs, and demand is especially high where the movement has many followers primarily in Israel, France, the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Moshe Lazar said he predicts the Calabria orchards will recover fully within a year or two, making the shortage a very temporary difficulty.

But not a new one, his son noted.

Hasidic tradition has many stories of Russian cities where Jews struggled to find an etrog for Sukkot, Berel Lazar said. This year we are reliving also this tradition.

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Why some Jews are paying $500 for an Italian etrog – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Keep $60,000 in Donations from Harvey Weinstein

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will keep over $60,000 in donations from disgraced media executive Harvey Weinstein, despite growing allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

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Oscar-Winning Director Oliver Stone Accused of Sexual Assault

As more and more women step forward to give public testimony about their alleged abuse at the hands of Hollywood power — Harvey Weinstein, Ben Affleck, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price — more and more women are coming out about their alleged abuse at the hands of Hollywood power.

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Keeping Jews Jewish in cyberspace – Canadian Jewish News (blog)

Sponsor Content: Willie Sutton, the notorious criminal, was once asked why he robbed banks. He reportedly quipped, Because thats where the money is! With a world tethered to iPhones, tablets and laptops, Willies lesson has not been lost on missionaries targeting the Jewish community for conversion. For years theyve declared that the Internet is now their most fertile field for evangelism. Recognizing that cyberspace has become the front line in the struggle for Jewish hearts and minds, Jews for Judaism launched its unique YouTube channel five years ago. More than 200 videos have been produced, covering issues from Jewish meditation to critical responses to missionary claims, and are being viewed over 2,000 times a day. Feedback has often been dramatic. Sharon recently shared her incredible story. Three years ago she met Robert and began dating him. Unbeknownst to her, Robert was a trained missionary who moved to her city to work for an organization seeking to convert Jews. On their third date, Sharon discovered this and was understandably both upset and confused. She didnt want to end their relationship and suggested that they explore their religious differences. While searching online, they came across the 15-part Jews for Judaism Counter-Missionary Seminar and used it for their study of the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Sharon and Robert spent months going over the material, debating and thinking. Ultimately, Robert found the videos so compelling that he began to consider Judaism as an option. After two years of further study, he converted to Judaism and they married. Today, Robert and Sharon are committed to living and growing together in their Judaism. One special playlist on the YouTube channel was developed for deaf Jews. This population is particularly vulnerable to missionary efforts directed at them and very few Jewish resources are available to help the Jewish deaf. Education Director Rabbi Michael Skobac has produced seven videos, simultaneously signed on a split screen, focusing on Jewish spirituality and counter-missionary content. A serious challenge to Jewish identity, particularly on college and university campuses, is the growing impact of anti-Israel propaganda and the BDS movement. Jewish students are often poorly prepared for and intimidated by this hostility. To help inspire young Jews to be more knowledgeable and confident regarding Israels just cause, a new section of the YouTube channel is dedicated to educational programs focusing on the Jewish connection to Israel. The impact of these videos is enhanced through their integration into a widespread presence on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. This allows viewers the opportunity to go beyond the videos and explore further by asking questions and engaging in an ongoing dialogue. Positive feedback comes in each day. Sarah recently wrote, My husband and I learned so much from your YouTube lectures. I feel like we are coming home for the first time. I wanted to thank you for being a light. We are very grateful for all that you do. You inspire so many. For info, to book a program or donate, go to www.jewsforjudaism.ca

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A trip to Portugal reveals the lives of the hidden Jews – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Were there still Jews in Portugal after the Inquisition in 1536 wiped them out? How did some survive? Where did they live? How did they keep their faith alive? In my quest for details to add to my historical novels about Jewish identity, my husband and I took a Jewish tour of Portugal, where I attemped to answer such questions. The context for our travel was this: After the Spanish expulsion in 1492, many Jews migrated to Portugal, where they were given the mandate to convert or die. Your current subscription does not provide access to this content. Please click the button below to manage your account. kAmkDEC@?8mr2DE6=@ qC2?4@k^DEC@?8mk^Am kAm~FC 6IA=@C2E:@? 3682? 2E E96 > FD6F> r2D2 56 |6> C:2 😕 E96 E@H? @7 r2DE6=@ qC2?4@ 😕 46?EC2= !@CEF82=] (6 D2H E96 D2?36?:E@D WD24 ?65 y6HD H@C6 5FC:?8 E96 x?BF:D:E:@?] p=E9@F89 E96J H6C6 C6AC@5F4E:@?D[ x 76=E E96 9F> :=:2E:@? @7 E96D6 AC@F5 A6@A=6 7@C465 E@ H62C E96 F?:7@C> @7 2 96C6E:4] %96 > @DE D9@4 6D @7 E9@D6 H9@ H6C6 A6CD64FE65 😕 E96 E@H?] xE H2D ?@E F?=: 6> @C:2=]k^Am kAmkDEC@?8m%C2?4@D@k^DEC@?8mk^Am kAm%C2?4@D@[ 2? 2?4:6?E E@H? H:E9:? 2 H2==65 4:EJ H:E9 2 42DE=6 😕 CF:?D ?62C3J[ 92D 2 y6H:D9 BF2CE6C] |2?J 9@> 6D E96C6 762EFC65 2 DJ> 3@=i 2 4C@DD DE2?5:?8 @? 2 E9C66AC@?865 DE2?5 E92E C6D6> 3=6D E96 :?G6CE65 =6EE6C D9:?] xE H2D 2 H2J E@ =6E @E96C y6HD

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White Supremacy and Jews as Racialized Other – The Good Men Project (blog)

Embed from Getty Images Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! The estimated 1500 neo-Nazi white supremacists blared out this disgusting chant as they marched with their Tiki Torches in hand through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in protest of the scheduled removal of a statue commemorating Civil War General Robert E. Lee. This march was reminiscent of similar events held throughout Germany, and in particular, in Nuremberg during the Nazi era. So why do self-described white supremacists target Jews, many who appear white? The answer, stemming from a long and complex history, is quite simple: Though Jewish people are members of every so-called race, even Jews of European heritage (Ashkenazim) have been and still continue to be racially othered by some dominant Christian European-heritage communities in some quarters. For this reason, members of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups engage in religious, ethnic, and racial bigotry against all groups they consider non-white, including Jews. In other words, anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination (a.k.a. anti-Semitism) is a form of racism. The Racialization of Jews Looking back on the historical emergence of the concept of race, critical race theorists remind us that this concept arose concurrently with the advent of European exploration as a justification for conquest and domination of the globe beginning in the 15th century of the Common Era (CE) and reaching its apex in the early 20th century CE. Biologists and geneticists tell us that there is often more variability within a given so-called race than between races, and that there are no essential genetic markers linked specifically to race. They assert, therefore, that race is an historical, scientific, biological myth, an idea, and that any socially-conceived physical racial markers are fictional and are not concordant with what is beyond or below the surface of the body. Though biologists and social scientists have proven unequivocally that the concept of race is socially constructed (produced, manufactured), however, this does not negate the very real consequences people face living in societies that maintain racist policies and practices on the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and larger societal levels. For millennia, some Christian theologians distinguished Jews as different from and inferior to Christians on religious grounds. A number of passages within the Christian Testaments were used to give justification for persecuting Jews. For example, Matthew 27:24-25, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16: [T]he Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out, the Jews who are heedless of Gods will and enemies of their fellow man.All this time they have been making up the full measure of their guilt, and now retribution has overtaken the good of all. They also often equated Jews to the Devil: And Jesus said: If God were your father, you would love me[but] your father is the devil and you choose to carry out your fathers desires (John 8:44). The Jewsare Satans synagogue (Revelation 2:9). I will make those of Satans synagogue, who claim to be Jews but are lying frauds, come and fall down at your feet (Revelation 3:9). Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), born Carl Linn, (also know as the Father of Scientific Racism), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, developed a system of scientific hierarchical classification. Within this taxonomy under the label Homo sapiens, (Man), he enumerated five categories based initially on place of origin and later on skin color: Europeanus, Asiaticus, Americanus, Monstrosus, and Africanus. Linnaeus asserted that each category was ruled by a different bodily fluid (Humors: moistures), represented by Blood (optimistic), Phlegm (sluggish), Cholor (yellow bile: prone to anger), Melancholy (black bile: prone to sadness). Linnaeus connected each human category to a respective humor, thereby constructing the Linnaeus Taxonomy in descending order: Europeanus: sanguine (blood), pale, muscular, swift, clever, inventive, governed by laws; Asiaticus: melancholic, yellow, inflexible, severe, avaricious, dark-eyed, governed by opinions; Americanus (indigenous peoples in the Americas): choleric, copper-colored, straightforward, eager, combative, governed by customs; Monstrosus (dwarfs of the Alps, the Patagonian giant, the monorchid Hottentot): agile, fainthearted; Africanus: phlegmatic, black, slow, relaxed, negligent, governed by impulse. Later, although Charles Darwin himself did not assert this, some of Darwins successors, referred to as Social Darwinists, hypothesized that Jews no longer were simply a separate religious, ethnic, or political group, but rather, like black Africans and other groups (including homosexuals), Jews were throwbacks to earlier stages of religious and human development. Social Darwinists forwarded a so-called racial hierarchy placing Aryans on the top, black Africans at the lower end, and other races (including Jews) at various points in between. In Europe, by the late 19th century CE, Judaism had come to be viewed by the scientific community as a distinct racial type, with essential immutable biological characteristics a trend that increased markedly into the early 20th century CE. Once seen as largely a religious, ethnic, or political group, Jews were increasingly constructed as members of a mixed race (a so-called mongrel or bastard race), a people who had crossed racial barriers by interbreeding with black Africans during the Jewish Diaspora. If Jews were evil, as thought by many, this evilness was genetic and could not be purged or cured. Jews converting to Christianity, therefore, could no longer solve the Jewish question. The British psychologist, Francis Galton (1822-1911) a cousin of Charles Darwin was a founder of the Eugenics movement. In fact, Galton coined the term eugenics in 1883 from the Greek word meaning well born. Eugenicists attempted to improve qualities of a so-called race by controlling human breeding. Galton argued that genetic predisposition determined human behavior. He proposed that the so-called elites in the British Isles were the most intelligent of all the peoples throughout the planet, while [t]he average intellectual standard of the Negro race is some two grades below our own [Anglo-Saxons]. The Australian type is at least one grade below the African Negro and The Jews are specialized for a parasitical existence upon other nations. Galton asserted that Jews were of a lower racial form, and that they could be easily recognizable by their appearance. He also talked about a supposed cold and calculating Jewish gaze. The U.S. writer, Madison Grant (1865-1937) codified this supposed racialization of the Jews in his influential book, The Passing of the Great Race, or The Racial Basis for European History (1916), in which he argued that Europeans comprised four distinct races: The Nordics of northwestern Europe sat atop his racial hierarchy, whom Grant considered as the natural rulers and administrators, which accounted for Englands extraordinary ability to govern justly and firmly the lower races. Next down the racial line fell the Alpines whom Grant referred to as always and everywhere a race of peasants with a tendency toward democracy although submissive to authority. These he followed with the Mediterraneans of Southern and Eastern Europe, inferior to both the Nordics and the Alpines in bodily stamina, but superior in the field of art. Also, Grant considered the Mediterraneans superior to the Alpines in intellectual attainments, but far behind the Nordics in literature and in scientific research and discovery. On the very bottom he placed the most inferior of all the European so-called races: the Jews. Referring specifically to the Polish Jew, Grant asserted that the Polish Jews, whose dwarf stature, peculiar mentality and ruthless concentration on self-interest[present themselves in] swarms. Once seen as largely a religious, ethnic, or political group, Jews were increasingly constructed as members of a mixed race (a so-called mongrel or bastard race). Analogous to the notion in the United States that one drop of black African blood makes a person black, according to Grant, the mixture of any of the European races and a Jew is a Jew. By the end of the 19th century CE, the popular image of the Jewish type (portrayed invariably as the Jewish male), according to Sander Gilman in his book The Jews Body, consisted of a hooked nose, curling nasal folds (ali nasi), thick prominent lips, receding forehead and chin, large ears, curly black hair, dark skin, stooped shoulders, [weak flat feet, deflated rump,] and piercing, cunning eyes. In addition, the gaze of the Jew was said to be pathological, searing, cunning, cold, and piercing. An offshoot of Eugenics was phrenology: the study of the skull emphasizing that its size and shape determined mental abilities and character. Phrenologist practitioners held that a specific section of the Jewish or Hebrew brain was abnormally developed causing Jews to be highly interested in money. As we know, the Nazis contrived racial arguments as a philosophical cornerstone as justification for their persecutions of Jews, as well as most people of color and people with disabilities. Jews and others they considered descendants from inferior racial stands. Nazi leadership argued vehemently that Jews were polluting the so-called Aryan race. They forced Jews to wear the yellow Star of David as a signifying marker, since to the Nazis, yellow represented a sign of race pollution. This sentiment extended far beyond the borders of the Third Reich. For example, in 1939, the United States Congress refused to pass the Wagner-Rogers Bill, which if enacted would have permitted entry to the United States of 20,000 children from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Jewish, over existing quotas. Laura Delano Houghteling, cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and wife of the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration sternly warned: 20,000 charming children would all too soon, grow into 20,000 ugly adults. Once constructed as the Other in European society, Jews and Jewishness while certainly not fully embraced by the ruling elite as one of their own became a sort of middle status, standing somewhere between the dominant position of the White majority and the marginal position of People of Color. And this change in Jewish ethnoracial assignment has occurred only within the last 70 or so years. Race then must be seen constructed not as a binary with white on one side and people of color on the other, but rather as a continuum. Except by extremists on the racist right, Ashkenazim are primarily constructed in the U.S. today on the white side of the line upon this continuum, and we definitely have white privilege vis-a-vis people of color. I would argue, however, that we do not have the degree and extent of white privilege in many sections of this country as white mainline Protestants. In fact, in some countries, for example, in Eastern Europe still today, we are not constructed as white. Obviously, so-called white supremacists and neo-Nazis believe this as well. __ Photo credit: Getty Images

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‘Time for Jews to leave Europe?’ Is Barcelona’s chief rabbi right? – Fox News

The reaction ofBDS(Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)Cataloniato the terrorist onslaughts in Barcelona and across Catalonia this past week was instructive. First, it offered lip-service condemnation of the Barcelona terrorist attacks. Then, with that out of the way, it condemned the European Union for human rights violations and took aim at its real enemies especially the occupiers of Palestina: We also do not forget the victims of military occupations, of wars and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestina, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Cote dIvoire, Burkina Faso and many other places where what happened yesterday in Barcelona is a daily occurrence. This statement came as a stunned nation of Spain and the rest of the world mourned 14 dead and over 100 wounded, with the shocked understanding that, if not for a premature explosion in an Islamist bomb factory, hundreds more might have been murdered. The chief rabbi of Barcelona, Meir Ben Chen, is not waiting to find out. Labeling Spain a hub of Islamist terror, he is lamenting that Europe is lost and calling on his flock to leave now. Now authorities are belatedly trying to figure out if a localimam radicalized the 12-man cell. Whateverthe truth,BDSers would never allow a crisis to go to waste or allow the facts to get in the way. Their 24/7 goal: Demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. But did hatred of Jews factor into the Barcelona massacre?Apparently, it was a motivating factor for at least one key player: Moroccan-born Driss Oukabir, the legal EU resident who rented the white Fiat van used to plow down tourists in the popularLas Ramblas district. Days before the mass murder-by-vehicle attack, Oukabir posted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tirades on social media. And was it just a coincidence that the van landed in front of a kosher restaurant (a rarity in Barcelona) called Maccabi and near another called Maoz Falafel? Only the driver of the van, who was shot and killed by authorities on Monday, may have known for sure. The chief rabbi of Barcelona, Meir Ben Chen, is not waiting to find out.Labeling Spain a hub of Islamist terror, he is lamenting that Europe is lost and calling on his flock to leave now. Panic? Overreaction? Maybe not. Jewish leaders in Europe are reeling from a series of recent attacks by Islamists targeting not only tourists, but also Jewish institutions, including the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the Hypercacher supermarket in Paris. Meanwhile, bigots have had a field day in their online swamp. One tweeter declared: Jewish-engineered non-white invasion of Europe ends with Muzzies slaughtering Jews. A second speculated that it was most likely planned by Jews. A third drew the lesson that to increase our guard against Jewish Power. But beyond Islamists and marginal online Jew-haters, anti-Semitism in the Eurozone is now also deeply embedded in the mainstream. There are areas in leading capitals, including London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm, where no Jew dares to wear a yarmulke or a Jewish star necklace in public. In Sweden, anti-Semitic attacks go virtually unchallenged and unprosecuted by authorities. Just how deeply embedded was highlighted not long ago by Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld, a respected author and researcher on anti-Semitism who attracted headlines and criticism with his assertion that well over 150 million citizens of the European Union (population 400 million) believe Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians. Gerstenfeld based his conclusion on a poll conducted by Germanys University of Bielefeld for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation that asked 8,000 people across eight EU member states whether they agreed. On average, 40 percent responded yes. Another report estimates that 11 million Spaniards harbor anti-Semitic views. Too many in the European Union, including major media, reflexively and habitually blame civilian Israeli communities (settlements) or Israeli self-defense against Palestinian terrorism for the spread of Islamist terrorism. And in the UK, rather than standing up for a Jewish community reeling from a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes,Jeremy Corbyns Labour Party has been rife with anti-Semitismand extreme anti-Israel antipathy. Today, the anti-Jewish bigotry among Islamists who preach bullying, violence and terrorism, combined with the apathy and even open hostility among ruling elites in many European societies to their Jewish neighbors, renders useless the post-World War II pledge of Never Again. Unless European leaders of state, culture and media dramatically change course,Barcelonas chief rabbi may be right. For the Jews, at least, Europe is lost. Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean, Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter. Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Trump admin’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves – Tahlequah Daily Press

WASHINGTON – What Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner did last week – or, rather, what they didn’t do – is a shanda. They’ll know what that means, but, for the uninitiated, shanda is Yiddish for shame, disgrace. The three men, the most prominent Jews in President Trump’s administration, could have spoken out, to say that those who march with neo-Nazis are not “very fine people,” as their boss claims. Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Cohn, the chief economic adviser, were actually standing with Trump when he said it. They said nothing. All three let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what Trump said – Kushner even got out word that he and his wife, Ivanka, had counseled Trump otherwise – but none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare. We have seen such a character before in Jewish history: the stadlan. The stadlan, or “court Jew,” existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king. He would dress like other members of the court, and he would beg the king for leniency toward the Jews but, ultimately, his loyalty was to the king. I thought we were past the age of the stadlan. So did my rabbi, Danny Zemel. “These guys are the princes of American business power,” he said. “If they can’t find an ounce of moral fiber from their own Jewish past, we’re in a very sorry way.” That past is as ancient as the Bible. Abraham argued with God, urging the Almighty not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the innocent. Moses, seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, struck the offender, buried him in the sand, and fled from Pharaoh. The daily Jewish liturgy includes the 146th Psalm, praying to a God who brings justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry, who lifts up those who are bowed, who upholds the widow and the orphan and who brings the wicked to ruin. Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner have a particular obligation as Jews, because the violent white supremacists in Charlottesville were targeting Jews with their swastikas and chants of “Jews will not replace us” and “Sieg Heil.” One of their leaders told “Vice News Tonight” it was objectionable that Trump would “give his daughter to a Jew.” A few stood outside a synagogue brandishing rifles, forcing Sabbath worshipers to slip out a back door. But Jews, because of our recent history, know what results from silence in the face of any type of bigotry. Before Trump dabbled in anti-Semitism, he made scapegoats of immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos and, especially, Muslims. Two years ago, when I described the actions that made candidate Trump a bigot and a racist, I noted that he hadn’t yet gone after Jews. That followed soon: the tweeted image of a Star of David atop paper money, and the speech and ads linking Jews to a secret “global power structure.” This racist demagoguery comes from the president of the U.S. In tweets Thursday, Trump proclaimed his sadness at the removal of “our beautiful” Confederate statues, and he revived the bogus claim that, a century ago, Gen. John J. Pershing dipped bullets in pig blood before shooting Muslim prisoners. Why is it so hard to condemn such filth? David Shulkin did. Trump’s veterans affairs secretary, who is Jewish (and an Obama holdover), said what needed to be said: “I do feel like as an American and as a member of the Cabinet, that I can speak for my own personal opinions on this, and I am outraged by the behavior that I have seen with the Nazis and the white supremacists.” Shulkin said he will continue to speak. “Staying silent on these issues is not acceptable,” he said. Amen. Even the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion, Haskel Lookstein, joined in a statement saying he was “deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered.” Amen. Even Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition called for “greater moral clarity” from Trump, saying “there are no good Nazis.” Amen. As I write this, my 13-year-old has come into my office and said the neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville synagogue make her reluctant to return to Hebrew school. She asks if our family will be a target because people know I’m Jewish. This is what Trump has done to America. And this is what Cohn, Mnuchin and Kushner allow with their shameful silence. Do they prize their appointments so much? Well then, don’t quit. Speak out. Let him fire you. But don’t play the court Jew. Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

2 Israeli Jews converted to Islam, joined IS in Syria – The Times of Israel

Two Israeli Jews have converted to Islam and joined the Islamic State in Syria, according to the Shin Bet security agency. The two were named on a list of 20 Israeli citizens, one of whom is now deceased, who joined the ranks of the jihadist group, Israels Channel 2 news reported Tuesday. The two Israelis were born Jewish in the Soviet Union, immigrated to Israel at a young age, grew up in Israel, then converted to Islam as adults and traveled to Syria to join the ranks of IS. It was not immediately clear when the two left the country. One, a 28-year-old woman, grew up in Ashdod. The other, Alex, a 32-year-old man, grew up in Lod. Alexs sister, who was not identified, told the TV station the family was in shock and is not in touch with him. The list was drawn up for Interior Minister Aryeh Deri after a law went into effect this week allowing him to strip members of foreign terror organizations of their Israeli citizenship. The list was made up mostly of Israeli Arabs, including two each from the towns of Fureidis, Kafr Kassem, Jaljoulya, Beena and East Jerusalem. One person on the list died recently, while the list was being drawn up. Deri is expected to formally strip them of their citizenship in the coming weeks. The security service periodically releases information about individual Israelis who have left the country to join IS. In March, a Belarusian-Israeli man was arrested as he attempted to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, after expressing support for the group over the past year and a half. The suspect, Valentin Vladmir Mazlevski, a 39-year-old father of five, moved to Israel from Belarus in 1996 at age 18 and converted to Islam four years later, while he was serving in the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet said. Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Why some Jews are paying $500 for an Italian etrog – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Samuel Ekstein from New York City inspecting a citron fruit in Santa Maria Del Cedro, southern Italy, Sept. 14, 2016. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images) (JTA) Fiftyyears ago, leaders of the Chabad movement tasked Rabbi Moshe Lazar of Milan with supervising the local production and export of the Calabria etrog, the citrus fruit used by Jews during the harvest festival of Sukkot. Lazars job is to make sure the fruit is kosher for the festival, and that local farmers arent cutting corners or using unkosher techniques to boost the yield and their profitsfor what already is Italys most lucrative citrus product. This year Lazar, now 83, has to be particularly vigilant. A winter frost destroyed 90 percent of this years crop, creating the worst shortage he has seen in Calabria etrogs, which are named for the southern region where they are grown. Italy is one of only three major exporters of the fruit along with Israel and Morocco. Prices for the kosher fruits, which in normal years can easily fetch $200 ahead of Sukkot, have doubled and tripled, making Chabad communities around the world who strongly favor the Calabria variety fear that they will not be able to afford or obtain a specimen to call their own. The shortage could also tempt unscrupulous or careless farmers. The frost just burned the fruit-producing branches, Lazar said. Due to the shortage, Lazar this year is picking fruit he would have deemed too homely for export in normal years, just as long as the fruit is technically kosher. To be considered as such, an etrog must at least be egg-sized, yellow, elliptical, intact (including its woody stem, or pitom) and possess a tough peel. But even using the grade B produce, there are not going to be enough Calabria etrogim to go around this year, Lazar said. Thats bad news for Chabad communities all over the world ahead of Sukkot, which this year begins on Oct. 4. Etrogs are among four species of plants that Jews purchase for the holiday, which is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Ukrainian city of Odessa, Rabbi Avraham Wolffs congregants are trying to buy a single Calabria etrog for $500 via a Judaica shop in the United States. Were worried that even at this high price we wont be able to get one this holiday, Wolff told JTA. So a few of the patrons of the community got together and decided to open a fund to make sure we have enough money, cost what it may, for at least one Calabria. In previous years, the community bought five Calabria etrogs for Sukkot to be shared by Chabad institutions in Odessa, where some 50,000 Jews live. (Under Jewish law, Jews must possess an etrog during the festival, but a loophole allows them to be shared as gifts among several people. The fruits arent eaten, but carried and held at various points during worship.) Other communities are able to cut out middlemen by buying the fruit directly from the farmers for about $50 apiece in normal years. But this year, farmers hiked their prices, starting at $150 apiece and all the way up to $350, according to Lazars son, Berel, who is a chief rabbi of Russia. Berel Lazar travels to Calabria each year to pick etrogs from orchards and bring them back to Russia for distribution to communities across the former Soviet Union. The younger Lazar charges congregants only what he pays the farmers. The day after Sukkot, the price of etrogs drops to $1 a pound, Berel Lazar said. Locals use the fruit to make jam and in the soap industry. The yield on Calabria etrogs, which are also called yanover etrogim because they used to be shipped from the Italian coastal city of Genoa, makes the fruit an irresistible target for manipulation, Berel Lazar said. Some growers attempt to increase their margins at the expense of the strict kosher standards that Moshe Lazar has enforced for 50 years. One trick is to secretly graft the relativity vulnerable etrog tree onto the trunk of a hardier citrus tree, rendering it more robust but non-kosher. A cruder ruse involves gluing fruits and branches from a non-kosher tree onto a kosher one. And while there is an atmosphere of friendship and mutual respect between the local farmers and the small team of supervisors working with Moshe Lazar, sadly there is not a relationship of trust, Berel Lazar said. He noted that the lucrative etrog trade has not escaped the attention of the Italian mafia, which he suggested may be pressuring farmers to try to pass off non-kosher etrogs as kosher to increase profits. Moshe Lazar, right, explaining to a visitor at an etrog orchard in Calabria in 2015 about how to pick kosher fruit. (Esrogim.info) Although etrogs are grown in Israel, Morocco and even the United States, Berel Lazar says that the Calabria etrog is clearly and visibly superior to those strands including fruits that grow in Israel on trees descended from Calabria groves. But to Chabadniks, the preference for Calabria etrogs is also based in scripture. According to Chabad traditions, the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, suggests that God bequeathed southern Italy to Esau, Isaacs firstborn and inheritor of earths richness, as he is designated in the book of Genesis. This means Calabria etrogim come from the richest soil, making them the best, Berel Lazar said. The shortage has Berel Lazar this year is sticking to a quota of 300-500 fruits for Russian communities a mere fraction of the yield in normal years, when tens of thousands of etrogs leave the orchards of Calabrias approximately 100 etrog farmers ahead of the Sukkot holiday. I cant pick as many as I want and send them all to Russia when the rest of the world is left without, he said. Virtually all Chabad communities eagerly await the Calabria etrogs, and demand is especially high where the movement has many followers primarily in Israel, France, the United States and the former Soviet Union. Moshe Lazar said he predicts the Calabria orchards will recover fully within a year or two, making the shortage a very temporary difficulty. But not a new one, his son noted. Hasidic tradition has many stories of Russian cities where Jews struggled to find an etrog for Sukkot, Berel Lazar said. This year we are reliving also this tradition.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed


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