What To Do About the Jews?

February 10, 2015

By Avi Davis

After his gaffes at the National Prayer Breakfast last week, it might be expected that President Barack Obama would now be a little more circumspect in his pronouncements about sensitive racial and religious topics.  But just as the howls of protests over his recondite comparison of 21st Century Islamic barbarism to 12th and 15th Century Christian fundamentalism have begun to fade, along comes yet another Obama lancing wound.

In an interview on Vox.com, the President seemed rather unclear about the nature of the attack on HyperCacher, the French kosher market in Paris where four Jews were murdered by Ahmed Coulibaly on January 7th.  He certainly did not seem to grasp that the attack was profoundly anti-Semitic and that Coulibaly chose his target with great care.

Questioned by journalist Matthew Yglesias about whether he feels the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism, he answered: 

“Look, the point is this: my first job is to protect the American people. It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. We devote enormous resources to that, and it is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that — the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”

Inevitably both White House press secretary Josh Earnest and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki received questions about this response today at their press conference. And the questioning lead to this bizarre exchange:

Question: Does the administration really believe that the victims of this attack were not singled out because they were of a particular faith?
Psaki: Well, as you know, I believe if I remember the victims specifically there were not all victims of one background or one nationality so I think what they mean by that is, I don’t know that they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically but the individuals who were impacted.
Question: They weren’t killed because they were in a Jewish deli though, they were in a kosher deli?
Earnest: John, these individuals were not targeted by name. This is the point.
Question: Not by name, but by religion, were they not?
Earnest: Well, John, there were people other than just Jews who were in that deli.

Lets not forget that the White House made no bones about recognizing the attacks as distinctly anti-Semitic when they occurred in early January. Later, after their press conference, both Psaki and Earnest pretended as if they had  never said what  they had plainly said and issued tweets announcing this.   No doubt the White House will seek to walk these comments back in the next few days and paste the whole thing over as a silly misunderstanding.

But the gaffes betray a deeper discomfort of the President and his White House representatives in dealing with the world wide spread of antisemitism.  How many times have you heard the President speak about the unquestionable rise of anti-Semitism as a worldwide phenomenon, rather than just a series of unrelated incidents?  The answer is zero, zilch, nada.

And it is for this reason:  by bringing attention to the spread of anti-Semitism, the President is forced to recognize that Jews might actually need or desire a homeland which is safe and secure – free from the rampages of Islamists who would target them for murder as they simply shop for their Sabbath meals or merely walk their children into school.

One of the historical justifications for a Jewish state – in fact the very incidents which gave rise to Zionism and the demands for a secure Jewish homeland in the late 19th Century – were  acts such as the one which occurred in the Kosher market on January 7th.  State sanctioned pogroms in Russia, attacks on Jewish property in Paris, blood libels in Syria and Egypt – these all contributed in the mid to late 19th Century to a sense that the position of the Jews, even in enlightened, liberated countries – was hopeless.

The safety and security of the Jewish state, which offers the single most important buffer against the recrudescence of anti-Semitism, is something of an obstacle now to the president’s attempts to remold the Middle East.   Committed to building a coalition against ISIS , the President  is now moving in the direction of allowing Iran’s Mullahs the room to flex their nuclear muscle so as to win, in exchange, their support for the war against ISIS.  In this he knows he must sacrifice Israeli security concerns which he is almost certain are overblown anyway.

But the Israelis are nervous for one very good reason: the Iranians have repeatedly stated their intention to destroy their country.   The annihilationist rhetoric is of course anti-Semitism writ large, as febrile and determined as anything planned or executed by Nazi Germany.

Is it any wonder then that Barack Obama and his Administration do not want to recognize or accentuate the worldwide rise of anti-Semitism?  It offers an increasingly annoying distraction – what to do about the Jews?

With so much else at stake, it is the last thing this President wants or needs to worry about.

 

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of  The Intermediate Zone.

 

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Jonathan Sacks: Right on Western Civilization; Wrong on Islam

February 2, 2015

by Avi Davis

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is almost certainly one of the leading religious figures in the world today.

As the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, he commands attention -not only for his former illustrious position, but equally for his erudition in Jewish law, his undoubted grasp of the dynamics of the political world and for his vast store of secular knowledge which embraces the disciplines of philosophy, literature, psychology and sociology.

He is beyond question one of the most worldly Jewish leaders to emerge since the polymath Maimonides took up a pen in the 12th Century and he is deeply admired for it.

I have read a number of Rabbi Sacks’ books including To Heal A Fractured WorldThe Dignity of Difference and Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning- all of which have fascinated me with their insights into the modern world and its challenges for both Jews and non-Jews alike.

Most impressive to me has been his understanding that the fate of Israel and the Jewish people is tied inextricably to the fate of western civilization.  In book after book, article after article, he propounds this same point  – our futures are bound together and those who attack Israel and the Jewish people are in fact attacking the very idea of civilization itself.

So I greeted with some anticipation Rabbi Sacks’ essay in the  Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Review titled The Return of Anti Semitism  which sought to address the recrudescence of antisemitism in the 21st century.

As usual I learned a great deal from this essay.   Among Rabbi Sacks’ many insights are that antisemitism is only contingently, even accidentally, about Jews.   Jews die from it, but they are not its only victims.   The elimination throughout the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia of hundreds of Christian communities is an incontrovertible extension of  antisemitism.   Thus he can assert: “ The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.”

 

Auschwitz survivor Miroslaw Celka walks out the gate with the sign saying ‘Work makes you free’ after paying tribute to fallen comrades at the ‘death wall’ execution spot in the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp on Jan. 27

Traditional Christian antisemitism, from the time of the Crusades onward objectified the Jews as having “mysteriously yet actively sought the harm of others”.  They were suspected of being actively involved in destroying the foundations of civilization.

Why, then, such a focus on the Jews?  Sacks posits that it always amounts to a peoples’ sense sense of their humiliation.   Societies which have suffered military defeat, widespread plague or the onset of the collapse of self confidence learn to externalize their pain by focusing on an explanation which provides clear and simple answers for it. Thus:

“By turning the question “What did we do wrong?” into “Who did this to us?”, it restores some measure of self-respect and provides a course of action. In psychiatry, the clinical terms for this process are splitting and projection; it allows people to define themselves as victims.”

This of course goes a long way to explaining what happened to the Muslim world after careening into its rapid decline in the 17th Century.

So far, so good.   It is when we reach the end of the essay that  we might find ourselves startled by an awkward conclusion. In pointing out how imbedded hatred destroys civilizations the author makes an impassioned plea for amity:

“Judaism, Christianity and Islam are religions of love, not of hate…… All of us—Jews, Christians and Muslims, brothers and sisters in Abraham’s family—must choose another way.”

The implication in this final paragraph (although not implicit in the essay itself) is that both Judaism and Christianity, in their purest form, exist on the same moral plain as Islam – as if they all profess the same fundamental values.

Is it political correctness which impels Sacks to make such a lachrymose and nonsensical statement?

For surely this thoroughly erudite and omnivorous scholar knows that Islam, from its very founding was not a religion of love or of peace;  that Islam did not acquire its anti- Jewish animus only in recent times but it was implicit in the religion from from its very inception. Muhammed set the example for what was to become a long tradition of Islamic antisemitism.  The oldest extant biography of Mohammed, that by Ibn Ishaq in the 8th Century, is replete with the Prophet’s evident hatred of Jews. He had individual Jews  asssasinated if he felt they had either insulted or disobeyed him;  When Muhammed gave the command to “kill any Jew who falls in to your power,” one of his followers, Ibn Mas’ud, assassinated  Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant.  The Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayza consisting of between 600 and 800 men was exterminated while the Banu’l Nadir were attacked and dispossessed of their wealth.

Besides these specific acts of atrocity perpetrated against Jews in the 1400 years since Muhammed began his ministry, one can see how Jew hatred gained its foundation in the Koran, the hadith and in the sira (the earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammed) to the point where the existence of a virulent antisemitic thread in Muslim scholarship becomes undeniable.

This was conclusively summed up in 1996 by Sheikh Muhammed Sayyid Tantawi who became (and remains) the Grand Imam of Al- Azhar University in Cairo:

” The Quran describes the Jews with their own degenerate set of characteristics ie: killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting his word by putting it in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously , refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do and other characteristics caused by their deep seated lasciviousness….only a minority of the Jews keep their word….all Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims. the bad ones do not.”

There could be no more poignant an example of Islamic Jew hatred emanating from the heart of Islamic scholarship today than this.

Isn’t it time then for our religious leaders to take off their rose colored glasses and begin to comment on this world for how it really is?  While Jonathan Sacks has provided us with a very accurate analysis of why antisemitism emerges and how it wreaks damage on the societies where it gains its firmest foothold, it is counterproductive for him to keep pretending that the scourge is a phenomenon that only becomes evident in broken, humiliated civilizations.

Antisemitism should be recognized as dangerously inherent within Islam itself – infecting the societies that revolve around it – and that without a total reformation of the precepts and tenets of Islam it is likely to continue to exist not just as a cancer eating away at the core of the Muslim world but as a contagion which will eventually envelop humanity.

Shying away from this reality and pretending that Islam seeks only peace and exhibits love lends it just more cover for its continued propagation of the oldest of the world’s hatreds and enables it to attract even more adherents to its destructive force.

 

Avi Davis is the president of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone 

 

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Paris Attacks Prove that Anti-Semitism and Anti-Western Sentiment Are the Same Thing

January 11, 2015

By Avi Davis

How did Ahmed Coulibaly, the Muslim gunman who invaded the Hyper Cacher grocery market in East Paris on Friday and killed four Jews shopping there, choose his target?

 

Only two days before, 10 members of the staff of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hedbo had been assassinated in cold blood by the Kouachi brothers – Muslim jihadists.

So why a kosher market?   Surely, there are far more visible and significant targets in Paris at which to have taken hostages.

Coulibaly, who is now known to have been a co-conspirator with the brothers, aimed to use the hostage crisis as a means of leveraging assistance to the two assassins on the run.

But the choice of the attack on the market in East Paris, conducted in such close proximity in time to the horrific events of only two days before, was an explicit statement to the West: that  the Jews and the citizens of the West are the same thing –  we are against them both –  and we will kill them both indiscriminately in order to advance our cause.

It is no secret that anti-semitism runs deep in the Muslim banlieues of Paris. It has been in evidence repeatedly in the past few years – and most particularly over the summer of 2014  when the Don Yitzchak Abarbanel Synagogue in the 11th arrondissement became the target of a near pogrom led by a mob of Palestinian supporters, angered by Israel’s incursion into Gaza.   From the murder of Ilan Halimi in 2005, to the killings by Mohammed Merah in Toulouse in 2012,  and the repeated brutal gang attacks by Muslims on Jews, there  is consummate evidence of a raging storm of anti-semitic animus swirling in Muslim society which will not be quelled by polite words requesting calm or by calls for unity.

It dovetails, in many ways with the rising antisemitism of  secular French society itself which masquerades under the guise of anti-Zionism.   Antisemitism, of course, has had a long history in France, reaching its peak 120 years ago during the infamous Dreyfus trial, when throngs of protestors (none of them Muslim, mind you) could be heard screaming the words “Death to the Jews.”

Perhaps that antisemitic animus, which still curdles in the French breast, is best expressed today  by France’s coddling of the rejectionist, terror sponsoring Palestinian Authority and as well as the French government’s flat refusal to outright condemn genocidal terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah who attack Israeli citizens indiscriminately

But the gunman who killed the staff of Charlie Hebdo and one who killed the four victims in the hyper market did not make these distinctions:  both Jewish and non-Jewish Frenchmen are now being targeted  in an explosion of hate, the like of which the French have never seen.

The Paris atrocities therefore prove that the attempt to snuff out free speech –  a key pillar of Western civilization,  is exactly the same thing as the attack on Jews and Zionists.    Jews/ Zionists/French journalists/Frenchmen  – these labels are interchangeable because all these identities stand in the way of the re-establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

Isn’t it then about time that the  French government  dropped its hypocritical, even handed stance towards Israel and the Palestinians  and unite with the Jewish state in an effort to confront  a common enemy?  What more pressing alliance could there by than being enjoined to defeat the forces that wish to destroy their mutual civilization?  Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS,  Boko Haram, al Qaeda  – it doesn’t matter what the name –  they all  drink from the same ideological trough, share the same values and preach the same hatred of Israel, Jews and the West.

But you still wouldn’t know this if you listen to the French foreign ministry.  When Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed a willingness to fly to France this week to express solidarity with the French, he was discouraged by a senior official close to the French President on the pretext that it would stir animosity.  However when Netanyahu insisted on traveling (considering that two of his ministers – Avigdor Liberman and Naftali Bennett, would be attending), the same officials told him that if he did, they would be compelled to also invite Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

Even in the face of the most devastating evidence of Muslim treason and rejection of French civilized norms, the French leadership still feels compelled to placate their restive Muslim population with a sycophantic policy of even handedness that will return them nothing but greater hatred.

Coulibaly, upon bursting into Hyper Cacher on Friday morning apparently shouted to the terrified shoppers: “Do you know who I am?”

The answer from Frenchmen, Israelis and all freedom loving people around the world  should now be thunderously thrown back at him:

” Yes, you are Death but we are Life and are united now to destroy you.”

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate  Zone

 

 


Death in a Synagogue

November 20, 2014

They could hear the iron doors at the front of the synagogue clang shut behind them.  Crowded together with 2,000 other people inside the main sanctuary, the man and the woman looked at each other in panic. The woman gazed down at her five year-old-son and gripped the little boy’s hand. She saw fear on his face.  Outside they heard shouting and could smell the pungent reek of flowing gasoline.  From the open window a swab, glowing with fire, landed on the synagogue floor. Then another. And another.  Shortly, the vestibule next to which they stood caught alight.  The flames then spread so quickly that they barely had time to catch their breath as the synagogue was engulfed in confusion and panic.  Screaming and shouting, people tore at each other to get near the windows.  But the windows had been nailed shut. Crushed in the throng, the man motioned to his wife to a hidden stairway that he knew led to an attic.  Slowly, through the gathering fumes and smoke, they forced their way towards it.   Once there they hurriedly clambered up.   And at the top they saw it.  A window not yet boarded up.  The man thrust open the wooden shutters and looked down.  He was there!

” Chaim! ”  he shouted at the top of his lungs. ” CHAIM!!!”

From down below a young man looked up and saw his father’s face.

” Jump, father, jump!!”

The woman  looked to her husband and she back at him. She shook her head.

” We CANNOT. We will never survive it. Never!”

” Basia, we will die here too.

But it was too late. Someone had seen them make their way to the stairs and a group now stormed the wooden steps ,invading the narrow space.  They were  crushed against the attic wall.

” We will all die!,” the woman wept.

The man looked down at his frightened son.

” GIVE ME HIM!” he shouted above the din.

She let go of his hand and pushed him toward her husband.  He lifted the boy by his armpits and with  a heave pushed his way  toward the open window.

He then set  him on the window ledge and looked below.

” Chaim, I am throwing him to you!, he shouted to the brother below. ” You must catch him!  You must break his fall!”

He turned to the boy and said softly:

” You will be alright. Chaim will catch you.  He touched  the boy’s face and kissed him.

” Grow, my son, to be a good Jew. ”

” NO, Tati, NO!!!  the boy cried.

But in less than a second he was tumbling through the cold night air.

Below his brother stood breathing hard and as the boy came down he caught him and they both collapsed into the snow.

There they lay for a second, stunned, and then the boy turned and looked back to the window.  But his father’s face had disappeared.

” TATI!!!!” the boy screamed.

They waited for a minute, as the tumult grew –  but they could already see smoke pouring from the attic window.  The older boy looked around and saw the police riding towards them.  He knew they had to leave.

” Come.  We cannot stay.”

”  I can’t,no”  the boy whimpered.  “TATI!, MAMMA!”  he cried as  he searched desperately for a sign of  his parents at the window.

“COME! ” the older boy finally commanded, holding back his own tears and pulling at the child’s arm.  ” YOU MUST COME!”

They quickly made their way out of the town and hid for the night in the fields under a blanket they had found.  They watched that night as the synagogues of Kiev burned to the ground.

Six months later  the orphan would be placed on a ship to Australia in the company of his aunt, never to see Russia again.  His brother would make his way to Canada and then America to begin a new life of his own.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  *

The man and the woman were my great-grandparents.  Their five -year-old son, my grandfather.   Their story is scorched into my family’s consciousness and the memory of that night can never be erased.

*****

Stories such as this are replete among Jewish families.  This event took place in 1919 during the Russian Civil War but could have easily been a scene taken from any number of episodes in Jewish history from the killing of the Jews of Medina by Mohammed in the 7th Century, to the rampages of the Crusaders along the Rhine in the 11th Century to the massacres in Russia in the mid 1600s

The synagogue has always been a convenient place to find and kill Jews.  There, at prayer, they are most vulnerable and least likely to offer resistance.

And so, it is little wonder that two Arab cousins  decided to enter the Jerusalem synagogue  in Har Nof, Jerusalem on  Wednesday morning.  How likely would it have been that these pious Jews were carrying weapons with which to defend themselves or would have any idea that their lives might be in danger?  How prepared could they have been for what overcame them that morning?B

This particular incident has yet another painful  familial association for me. My brother, his wife and six children live only a quarter of a mile from the synagogue. He has often prayed in the building  and his children have attended the school next door.

Jews began arriving in Palestine in the late 19th Century, fleeing attacks in Russia of exactly this nature.   The theory went that in the Holy Land, Jews would finally find safety and security building lives protected from the antisemitism and violence which swirled around them in Europe.  In the light of this most recent horrific incident it would be fairly easy to argue that the experiment has failed.  If Jews at prayer can still be butchered in a land they call their own, then what is the use of a Jewish police force, a Jewish army and all the appertuances of a Jewish state?

The answer to this challenge is that there are no guarantees anywhere on Earth that Jews will not be targeted for attack.  Not in England, where Orthodox Jews fear wearing their yarmulkes in public; not in the United States where virulent anti Zionism, (of a form indistinguishable from antisemtism) has emerged as a fashionable attitude among academic elites;   and not in supposedly quiet Australia where Jews have recently suffered some deeply disturbing antisemitic attacks, unknown to me at any time in my childhood.

But unlike my great-grandparents, who had nowhere to go and nowhere to turn, Jews in Israel have much to be grateful for. It is not the existence of an Israeli police force, nor an Israeli army.   Nor is it even a Jewish majority government.  It is a sense that despite the antisemitism that again rages around the world and the growing diplomatic isolation of the Jewish state as it struggles against pathological murderers and debased liars, the wind of history is no longer blowing against  them;  it is now blowing at their back.

The Jewish birth rate in Israel is higher than it has ever been and despite all dire predictions, far exceeds that of the Palestinians or Arabs in any other Arab State; Israel’s pre-eminence  as a high-tech hub has elevated it to a position of tremendous importance for the world’s most successful corporations making the state’s eradication  economically unimaginable.  Jewish nationalism, long derided by the post-Zionist academics and secular intelligentsia is making a significant comeback, buoyed by the idea that the nation , for  all its fractured differences, must be united and strong in the face of such adversity.

But even more important than any of  this is the growing national sense  that Judaism, once relegated as an ancient anachronism by so many secular Israelis, may actually be the life blood of the nation. Four rabbis were butchered in a synagogue while praying.  A severed arm, found in the bloodied synagogue, still wrapped in tefillin, offered a stirring symbol of faith and commitment in the face of the terror with which our enemies wish to undermine our perseverance .

It would seem to reinforce  the words of millions of Jewish fathers to their sons throughout the generations which perhaps offers the true key to Jewish survival:

“Grow, my son, to be a good Jew.”

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles. He blogs at The Intermediate Zone


THE EBOLA-LIKE PLAGUE OF ANTISEMITISM SWEEPING THE WEST

August 21, 2014

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My parents, who have lived in Jerusalem for 22 years, recently met their new neighbors.  They are French Jews from Paris who describe themselves as refugees. ” We came to the conclusion that there was simply no future for us in France.  Jews are targets there and the government cannot and does not want to protect them. France is lost.”
 
Their message resonated with me as I returned to Israel from a  speaking tour of Southern Africa.  In South Africa I watched as President Jacob Zuma and many of his secondary ministers, fulminated about the international crimes of the Israeli government in Gaza.  In Namibia, a country with only a handful of Jews and with no previous strong record of antisemitic animus, television news programs consistently portrayed a one dimensional view of the conflict, failing entirely to present the context of Operation Protective Edge and castigating the worldwide Jewish support for Israel as the primary culprit.
 
In Ethiopia, where I stayed for two days, almost everyone I met seemed to think that Israeli war crimes deserved international sanction and that Jews should be made to pay reparations for the destruction of Gaza hospitals and educational facilities.
 
 In Australia, a country with a very strong record of governmental support for Israel, a cartoon in one of the country’s leading dailies depicted a hook-nosed Jew reclining in a chair marked with a Star of David casually using a remote to destroy Gazan property.
 
And In Germany, demonstrators in Berlin – and not just Muslims – could be heard yelling “Death to Israel”, and “Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians!” and a Berlin imam was recorded using his sermons to ask Allah to kill the Jews “to the very last one,”.
In response, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumnn said; “We are currently experiencing in this country an explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews. We would never in our lives have thought it possible any more that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets. Jews are once again openly threatened in Germany and sometimes attacked.”
 
Throughout the world, Jews have felt the tremors of an upheaval that should be deeply unsettling if not shocking. For it is not simply Israeli policies which have been criticized.  Colleagues in Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, England, Italy and as far away as Iceland have reported unparalleled outbursts of antisemitic activity and sentiment in their countries.
 
The steep rise in antisemitism which has emerged in the streets of  the world’s capitals is a salutary reminder to us all of one of the abiding features of Western history: Antisemitism, despite the denials of governments and citizens – and our own self delusions, is a permanent feature of life in dozens of countries outside Israel that will not die. We fool ourselves into believing that it manifests only as a territorial claim or is some kind of residual spasm of a long cured illness.
 
For surely it is not. The disease is congenital and much like the Ebola Virus now sweeping  Western Africa  –  deadly and incurable. Despite the horrifying lessons of the Holocaust, the supposed safeguards of a powerful international human rights movement and the sanctimonious pronouncements of world leaders, the contagion of antisemitism has not been eradicated but persists in the minds of millions of people who remain convinced of a malevolent Jewish stereotype which threatens the peace of the world. 
 
If this is so, then where is it safe for Jews to live?
That is exactly the question that an Austrian-Jewish journalist reporting in 1895 on the polarizing anti-semitic trial of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, came to ponder: “if France – bastion of emancipation, progress and universal socialism – [can] get caught up in a maelstrom of antisemitism and let the Parisian crowd chant ‘Kill the Jews!’ Where can they be safe once again – if not in their own country?
 
Theodor Herzl’s words ring in my ears as I sit in Jerusalem and write these words.  Despite whatever you read in the world’s newspapers or hear from sage voices in the commentariat, the Jews of Israel feel safe – a fact which has little to do with the use of advanced technology or the deployment of one of the world’s most sophisticated armies.  United as at no time since perhaps the Six Day War, the Israelis as individuals and as a country seem to have finally grasped the fact that no territorial surrender, no peace agreements and no humanitarian gestures will appease their enemies.  That is because they accept, better than we in the Diaspora ever could, that the war against them extends beyond their borders and beyond the Middle East.  It is an age old  war of extinction, driven by the the most pernicious form of human hatred and if they have to make a stand against it then they will do it in their own land, with their own resources and on their own terms. The determination to defeat the enemy and to make the State of Israel a true place of refuge for the Jewish people has contributed to a remarkable resilience and an unshakable faith in the future which has allowed life in most of the country to continue, to the greatest extent possible, as normal.
 
I had to wonder about this as I perused my emails mid-flight on my way back from Ethiopia.  
Familiar with my somewhat frenetic travel schedule, an Australian friend asked:  “Are you home yet – wherever that might be?”
 
As I touched down at Ben Gurion Airport , saw the Israeli flag fluttering  in the moonlight, watched the cars pass by with blue and white ribbons attached to their antenna and witnessed the bumper stickers and posters declaring an unwavering commitment to victory, without  hesitation I wrote back:
 
” Yes, I am home – and I am safe.”
 
 
Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles and owns a home in the Old City of Tzfat in Israel. This piece appeared in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and subsequently in the Australian Jewish News and the Jerusalem Post

Jewish Students Finally Obtain Civil Rights

November 13, 2010

Up until two weeks ago, Jewish students across the nation were not protected against racially charged attacks on campus.

For close to seven years, the Office of Civil Rights, mandated to enforce the Title VI provisions of the1964  Civil Rights Act, failed to provide any guidelines for the protection of Jewish students from racially charged assaults.  Title VI  prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in any programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.  This of course included state universities .

But for years the OCR has failed to include antisemitic attacks on Jewish students because it could not, or rather would not, concede that Jewish students fell within the embrace of  the term ” race” and would not expand the meaning of “race, color or national origin”  to include religion. Nor was it prepared to apply its criteria to anti Zionist speeches and actions, even when such activities clearly crossed the line into outright attacks on Jews.

The reasons for this are a mixture of timidity, confusion and obfuscation on the part of the OCR.  Claiming it could not come to a satisfactory definition of who is a Jew, they sat on their hands and did nothing, while attacks and intimidation by Muslim students against Jewish spiraled into a virtual pandemic on a number of college campuses.

But on October 26,  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a letter that in effect applies Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitism on campuses:

” While Title VI does not cover discrimination based solely on religion,14 groups that face discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics may not be denied protection under Title VI on the ground that they also share a common faith. These principles apply not just to Jewish students, but also to students from any discrete religious group that shares, or is perceived to share, ancestry or ethnic characteristics (e.g., Muslims or Sikhs). Thus, harassment against students who are members of any religious group triggers a school’s Title VI responsibilities when the harassment is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, rather than solely on its members’ religious practices.”

Under the Department of Education new guidelines, the Civil Rights Act can now be invoked if anti-Jewish behavior is considered to be based on shared ethnic characteristics.

The government’s failure to address the outrages at certain California campuses had created a significant anomaly in the law, one in which Jews were treated differently from virtually any other group. African-Americans, Arabs, Hispanics, women, older students, and even Boy Scouts who charge their schools with discrimination formerly could have their cases investigated by the federal government.

Yet that was not the case for Jewish students.  The incidents at U.C. Irvine in Southern California alone over the past seven years speak for themselves.   Jewish students have been physically and verbally assaulted, causing some to fear wearing anything identifying them as Jews or pro-Israel; speakers have compared Jews to Nazis and to Satan operating in the shadows; posters have depicted the Star of David dripping with blood and equating it with the swastika; a Holocaust memorial was destroyed; and swastikas have defaced campus property.  The atmosphere of hate culminated with an attack on February 8 of this year when Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Michael Oren, addressing a public gathering on campus, was repeatedly interrupted by jeering Muslim students who launched an unseemly cocktail of antisemitic and anti-Zionist slurs,  refused to allow him to deliver his remarks.  Eventually eleven Muslim students were arrested by campus police for disturbing the peace.

Yet the U.C. Irvine Administration, which had for years labeled the antisemitic slurs as  free speech had done little to address the problem.  The Michael Oren incident however seemed to induce movement.  In August the Muslim Student Union was banned for the entire succeeding academic year.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Within a month, the administration, bowing to pressure from a variety of camps groups, agreed to commute the expulsion to one semester. Within a few weeks a new organization Alkalima: Muslim students at UCI had sprung up sporting essentially the same identity as the banned Muslim Student Union.  Already this new organization is bringing to campus the same antisemitic/ anti-Zionist programming of its predecessor.

This action should be followed  immediately by other by swift rebukes and condemnations at other troubled campuses including U.C. Berkeley, U.C.  Santa Cruz and U.C. Santa Barbara. It is hoped that it will inspire more determined responses to the rise of anti-Semitism on other North American campuses such as Concordia and York in Canada and Columbia in New York.

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