Friday, February 24, 2017

Traveling while Muslim

I'm feeling so sad about today's news.

Traveling while Muslim


Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of Muhammad Ali, was detained at the Ft. Lauderdale airport for two hours on February 7, because he has an Arabic-sounding name and is a Muslim.
Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the first wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. 
Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn't as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"
When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.
Syrian cinematographer whose film has been nominated for an Oscar was barred by Homeland Security from entering the United States.
U.S. immigration authorities have decided to bar entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer whose harrowing film about his nation's civil war, "The White Helmets," has been nominated for an Academy Award. 
According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khatib from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.
Killed for being thought "Middle Eastern" 
A Kansas man is accused of shooting and killing an Indian immigrant engineer he thought was Middle Eastern and wounding two others after shouting "get out of my country" and opening fire....

The slain victim was identified by authorities as Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an aviation engineer at technology company Garmin, originally Hyderabad, India. 
Kuchibhotla's co-worker Alok Madasani, a 32-year-old whose LinkedIn page shows he also attended school in India before moving to the Kansas City area in the mid 2000s, was wounded in the shooting and remains at the hospital.... 
Witnesses told the Kansas City Star that Purinton been drinking hard, and continually exclaimed racial slurs. When a bar regular told him to stop, the man yelled "get out of my country" before he started shooting.... 
Purinton allegedly told a bartender at the second bar, in Missouri, that he had killed two men who he called "Middle Eastern."

Sebastian Gorka

Sebastian Gorka is an advisor to President Trump. Read the whole article for information about his ties with a controversial Hungarian order of knights, along with the fact that his mother worked for David Irving (the Holocaust denier) translating texts from Hungarian when he was writing his book on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
by Eva S. Balogh 
Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant of President Donald Trump and member of a new White House team, the Strategic Initiatives Group, has been receiving an increasing amount of attention in the last few weeks. Julianne Smith, a former national security adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden, worries about both the existence of this new group and Sebastian Gorka’s presence in it. Counterterrorism experts are particularly concerned about Gorka’s ideas that Islam as a religion cannot be separated from the ideology of terror. Knowledgeable people in the field consider his ideas on Islam dangerous and a radical departure from U.S. policy over the last 17 years. 
Several U.S. journalists who have dug into Sebastian Gorka’s past have been puzzled by his proud embrace of his Hungarian roots. Why did he appear at the inaugural ball in a strange braided outfit with an equally strange medallion and decoration? Eli Clifton of LobeLog identified the medallion as one bestowed by the Order of Knights (Vitézi Rend), a group established by Miklós Horthy, governor of Hungary between 1920 and 1944. A day later Allegra Kirkland of Talking Points Memo quoted a Hungarian historian who was less certain about its provenance. 
By now we can state with confidence that the medallion is indeed the identifying object of the Order, as Sebastian Gorka himself admitted in a short Breitbart video appearance. He explained that on special occasions he wears the medallion and decoration, which his father received in appreciation of his suffering as a political prisoner between 1950 and 1956. But there is a more complete version of the story that needs telling. Read here for the complete story:
Spotlight on Gorka’s Controversial Medal.
The Forward has also just published another article about Gorka's ties with the Hungarian right, including Jobbik, the far right party, and also about his involvement in founding another Hungarian right-wing party: Gorka and the Hungarian right-wing.

What is really strange to me about Gorka is that he has been politically involved in three countries. He was born in Britain, the son of Hungarian refugees from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He served in military intelligence there. After the end of Communism, he moved to Hungary, worked for the Ministry of Defense, and became involved with the far right.
As a young man, he was a member of the United Kingdom’s Territorial Army reserves, where he served in the Intelligence Corps. Then, following the fall of Communism in Hungary, he was employed in 1992 by the country’s Ministry of Defense. He worked there for five years, apparently on issues related to Hungary’s accession to NATO....It was during his time in Hungary that Gorka developed ties to the country’s anti-Semitic and ultranationalist far right....
After the failure of his new party in 2007, Gorka moved to the United States and over the past 10 years has worked for the Department of Justice, Marine Corps University, National Defense University, and Joint Special Operations University.
In Hungary, Gorka failed to get a security clearance because of his intelligence work for the British military. Why does he have an American security clearance? (I'm assuming he does because of his current position as a high White House advisor). Other people working in Trump's administration were not able to get security clearances and lost their jobs. Wouldn't Gorka's past employment with the Hungarian Ministry of Defense and his involvement in right-wing Hungarian politics present an obstacle to getting an American security clearance? He appears to have British, Hungarian, and American citizenship. Which country is he really loyal to?

For an example from another country, Israel: When Michael Oren, who was born in the US and then made aliyah to Israel, was going to be appointed Israeli ambassador to the United States, he had to renounce his American citizenship.

For more on Gorka:

See also: http://lobelog.com/why-is-trump-adviser-wearing-medal-of-nazi-collaborators/

And, from Hungarian Spectrum:

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/02/13/donald-trumps-influential-advisers-sebastian-and-katharine-gorka/

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/01/31/sebastian-gorkas-road-from-budapest-to-the-white-house/

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/02/02/sebastian-l-von-gorkas-encounter-with-the-hungarian-national-security-office/


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The veil of antisemitism

CNN tonight, Kayleigh McEnany and Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.

Kayleigh McEnany: "For those wanting to give the president a fair chance, you would have heard him condemning antisemitism. I have his exact quote from the first time he was asked this question. He said, 'I want peace in this country, I want to stop crime and long-simmering racism.' That sounds like a condemnation to me. But some people on the left are using the veil of antisemitism and the charge of antisemitism to further their own political causes. It's dangerous. I agree with Alan Dershowitz fully that we should not be loosely throwing this term around. I've got to ask you straight on - so you think that the president does not like Jews and is prejudiced against Jews? You think that about the President of the United States?"

So we were supposed to divine from Trump's word salad that he was condemning antisemitism, when he didn't even use the word? "Peace." "Crime" "Long-simmering racism."

And here we see someone from the right making exactly the same argument as the anti-Israel left - that Jews (that's what she means by "some people on the left") use antisemitism for their own (impure) purposes. The BDS left accuses Jews of crying antisemitism in order to supposedly "stifle" criticism of Israel. In this case, she's accusing Jews of crying antisemitism in order to criticize Donald Trump. Both are cases of bad faith. They deny Jews the right to determine for ourselves what antisemitism is - a right generally given to those who are the targets of prejudice and discrimination. Instead, both arrogate to themselves the right to decide what is antisemitic and what is not - since it's too dangerous for Jews to possess that power themselves.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"A pathetic asterisk of condescension"

A lovely denunciation of Trump's weak statement about antisemitism today:
Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect 12 hrs ·

MR. PRESIDENT, YOUR TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF #Antisemitism TODAY IS NOT ENOUGH. 
Statement of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, on President Trump's acknowledgment of Antisemitism today: 
“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”
And here's Sean Spicer's whiny response (from TPM):
Spicer said he had seen the statement.
“I think he has been very forceful with his denunciation of people who seek to attack people because of their hate, because — excuse me, because of their religion, because of their gender, because of the color of their skin," he said. "This is something that he is going to fight and make very, very clear that has no place in this administration.” 
“But I think it's ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this that it's never good enough,” Spicer continued. “Today I think was an unbelievably forceful comment by the President as far as his denunciation of the actions that are currently targeted towards Jewish community centers. But I think that he has been very clear previous to this that he wants to be someone that brings this country together and not divide people, especially in those areas.”
“So I saw that statement. I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area. And I think that hopefully as time continues to go by they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans,” he said.
When has Trump ever denounced those who seek to attack people because of their religion, gender, or skin color? He himself has attacked Muslims and Mexicans, he apparently can't tell one Black person from another, and he has issued an executive order to target undocumented immigrants for deportation, as if they are the source of all evil in our country. This was not an "unbelievably forceful comment." It was perfunctory and off-hand. The president has shown no leadership whatsoever when it comes to condemning hate crimes and bigotry. He fosters bigotry rather than fighting against it.

Trump finally condemns antisemitism

Well, he finally bestirred himself to condemn antisemitism (After much prodding, Trump condemns anti-Semitism):
Under pressure to condemn anti-Semitism in the wake of what has been called an uptick in incidents since he was elected, Trump told MSNBC on Tuesday morning, “Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop, and it has to stop.”.... 
Asked by reporter Craig Melvin if his statement meant he was denouncing anti-Semitism “once and for all,” Trump replied: “Of course, and I do it whenever I get the chance to do it.” [This is a lie, by the way]..... 
Reading prepared remarks, Trump called the museum [of African American History] “a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and our Jewish community centers are horrible, are painful and they are a reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil. 
So what's he going to do to work against antisemitism? Will he denounce David Duke as an antisemite and racist?

Will he stop talking to Alex Jones of Infowars, which publishes antisemitic conspiracy theories? (According to the New York Times, Jones has been talking to Trump occasionally on the phone, and some of Trump's conspiracy theories were taken from Infowars).

Will he fire Richard Bannon, his chief strategic officer and former publisher of Breitbart?

If he runs again for president in 2020, will he refrain from making ads that blame rich Jews for globalism?

Will he tell his racist and antisemitic followers to stop targeting Jews, Muslims, African Americans, and LGBT people?

Will he order the FBI to get to the bottom of the wave of recent threatening calls to Jewish community centers?

I want to see actions, not words.


On Infowars, see these antisemitic stories. I found them within seconds when I searched the site.
http://www.infowars.com/israel-hopes-to-colonize-parts-of-iraq-as-greater-israel/
http://www.infowars.com/racist-birth-control-claims-israel-culling-ethiopian-jews/ (story taken from RT)
http://www.infowars.com/fake-news-site-cnn-completely-misrepresents-quote-rest-of-lying-media-runs-with-it/ (covering up Richard Spencer's antisemitism)
http://www.infowars.com/global-thought-police-new-testament-is-hate-speech/ - article by Rev. Ted Pike, originally published in the American Free Press, a blatantly antisemitic website (E.g., http://americanfreepress.net/rothschilds-want-irans-banks/).
http://www.infowars.com/william-kristol-is-terrified-that-trump-could-try-911-perpetrators/

Monday, February 20, 2017

Eleven JCCs threatened today. Jewish tombstones vandalized in Missouri.

Antisemitic incidents of the last few days:

Today, February 20: In University City, Missouri, over a hundred gravestones in the Jewish cemetery Chesed shel Emeth were knocked over.

Also today, eleven Jewish Community Centers received telephoned bomb threats, apparently from the same person or persons who has previously made these phone calls. This is the fourth time in five weeks that the threats have been phoned in. The JCCs affected were in Birmingham, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; Hyde Park JCC in Chicago; Sabes JCC in Minneapolis; Albuquerque, New Mexico; JCC of Greater Buffalo, New York; Mandel JCC of Cleveland; Jewish Federation of Tulsa, OK; Nashville, TN; Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston; and the JCC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ivanka Trump actually Tweeted about it, although it would have been nice if she had actually used the word "Jewish."
This was the response from Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, after being asked about these incidents by Peter Alexander of NBC. He did not mention the fact that Jewish community centers were threatened, nor did he use the word antisemitic. Just note: if this had been the response of the Obama White House there would have been howls of protest from the establishment Jewish community and from right-wing Jews.

February 17: From Idan Cohen of the University of Minnesota: Daily Stormer antisemitic posters were posted in several places on campus. An example:



February 16: Swastikas and antisemitic notes were left at multiple homes and a Chabad center in Oak Park, California.
The search is on for several suspects caught on camera leaving cards with swastikas, anti-Semitic threats and derogatory messages at multiple homes and a Chabad in an Oak Park neighborhood. 
According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to several calls of service regarding the notes on Feb. 11. 
The sheriff's office said it has created a special task force and is collaborating with federal law enforcement agencies to catch the culprits. 
The notes were placed on the front doors of seven homes, left on a car as well as the Chabad of Oak Park. Investigators said with the exception of the Chabad, the notes appeared to be randomly placed and did not specifically target Jewish residents. 
The suspects were caught on surveillance video. Based on the footage, authorities believe there are at least four male suspects involved. They were described to be teens who likely live in the area.

February 9: Also at UMinn: 
A dry-erase board inside the University of Minnesota dorm room of freshman Avi Shaver was marked with a swastika and depiction of a concentration camp. Shaver posted the photo to his Facebook when he returned to his room at around 1 a.m., Thursday. The drawing includes the slogan “Work Will Set You Free,” which, in German, is above the entrance to Auschwitz. (Photo below is from Avi Shaver's FB page).



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mircea Eliade

More on Mircea Eliade and Jews, from the Journal of Mihail Sebastian,from selections published in the New Yorker October 2, 2000:
September 25, 1936      He [Eliade] is able to work comfortably with the anti Semitic Vremea [a newspaper], as if there were nothing untoward about it. Nevertheless I shall do everything possible to keep him. 
February 25, 1937     Yesterday evening, there was a little party at our place. Mircea, [his wife] Nina, Marietta, [her husband] Haig, Dinu [Noica]. 
I wonder if this won't be the last time I ask them round. I don't feel I can stand the duplicity that our friendship has required since they went over to the Iron Guard. Is friendship possible with people who have in common a whole set of alien ideas and feelings - so alien that I have only to walk in the door and they suddenly fall silent in shame and embarrassment? 
September 20, 1939    Titel Comarnescu tells me of a political conversation he had recently with Mircea, who is more pro-German than ever, more anti-French and anti-Semitic. 
"The Poles' resistance in Warsaw," says Mircea, "is a Jewish resistance. Only yids are capable of the blackmail of putting women and children in the front line, to take advantage of the Germans' sense of scruple. Rather than a Romania again invaded by kikes, it would be better to have a German protectorate." 
Now I understand perfectly why he is so reticent with me when it is a question of politics, and why he appears to take refuge in metaphysics to escape "the horrors of politics." 
Just look at what he thinks, your ex-friend Mircea Eliade.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No comments on this post will be accepted (previous ones have been deleted). Someone has been writing long comments with their own elaborate (and incomprehensible) theory, which seems to aim at proving that Eliade was not antisemitic. I believe that the comments quoted above, from Sebastian, show that indeed he was antisemitic, and I'm not interested in reading any more comments on the topic.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Signs of the Times II

At Trump's campaign rally today (yes, he continues having these even though he's already been elected president), there was a small group of Black people carrying signs supporting Trump.
One of the people holding up these signs is a man named Michael Symonette or Michael Woodside, who used to be part of a murderous anti-semitic Black separatist cult named Yahweh ben Yahweh. From the Miami New Times:
He's none other than Michael the Black Man, also known as Maurice Woodside or Michael Symonette, who has made waves in Miami in recent years with protests against the Democratic Party and rallies for the GOP.

He's also a former member of the murderous Yahweh ben Yahweh cult, which was led by the charismatic preacher Hulon Mitchell Jr., who was charged by the feds in 1990 with conspiracy in killings that included a gruesome beheading in the Everglades.

Michael, along with 15 other Yahweh followers, was charged for allegedly conspiring in two murders; his brother, who was also in the cult, told jurors that Michael had helped beat one man who was later killed and stuck a sharpened stick into another man's eyeball. But jurors found Michael (and six other Yahweh followers) innocent. They sent Mitchell away for 20 years in the federal pen.

In the years that followed, he changed his last name to Symonette, made a career as a musician, started a radio station in Miami and then re-invented himself as Michael the Black Man, an anti-gay, anti-liberal preacher with a golden instinct for getting on TV at GOP events. He's planned events with Rick Santorum and gotten cable news play for bashing Obama....

So why is he supporting Trump? Reached on his cell phone in Lakeland, he said he likes Trump's plan to lower taxes, but also offered a complicated answer tying Hillary Clinton to a range of racist activities.

"One reason is because Hillary's last name is Rodham, and their family members are Rothchilds, who enslaved 13,000 slaves as collateral," he says. "She's also on camera kissing the head of the Ku Klux Klan and saying, 'That's my mentor.' That's all on my website."

That website's address is also prominently displayed on those signs he waved behind Trump on TV today. The URL leads to a site full of grainy videos accusing Clinton of associating with various racist organizations.

Signs of the Times I

Milo Yiannopolous appears on pseudo-liberal Bill Maher's show:
.....in an online-only segment that ran after the HBO broadcast, Mr. Yiannopoulos said that transgender people were “vastly disproportionately involved in sex crime,” drawing jeers, boos and a shout of “liar” from Mr. Maher’s audience.
Who is Yiannopolous?

Here's Ben Shapiro, another right-winger, describing him:
There’s plenty to dislike about Milo Yiannopoulos’ poisonous brand -- he says Jews run the media; earlier this month he characterized a Jewish BuzzFeed writer as a “a typical example of a sort of thick-as-pig shit media Jew”; he justifies anti-Semitic memes as playful trollery and pats racist sites like American Renaissance on the head; he describes himself as a “chronicler of, and occasional fellow traveler with the alt-right” while simultaneously recognizing that their “dangerously bright” intellectuals believe that “culture is inseparable from race”; back in his days going under the name Milo Wagner, he reportedly posed with his hand atop a Hitler biography, posted a Hitler meme about killing 6 million Jews, and wore an Iron Cross; last week he berated a Muslim woman in the audience of one of his speeches for wearing a hijab in the United States; his alt-right followers routinely spammed my Twitter account with anti-Semitic propaganda he tut-tutted before his banning (the amount of anti-Semitism in my feed dropped by at least 70 percent after his ban, which I opposed); he personally Tweeted a picture of a black baby at me on the day of my son’s birth, because according to the alt-right I’m a “cuck” who wants to see the races mixed; he sees the Constitution as a hackneyed remnant of the past, to be replaced by a new right he leads; there's plenty more – but rioting against him only means more people buy into his schtick and allows him to shed his persona for a clean-cut conservative character on Tucker Carlson.
(I agree with Shapiro on the use of political violence, by the way - he's right that it only turns MY into a political martyr).

So why on earth is Bill Maher normalizing Yiannopolous by having a "chummy interview" with him?

More on Milo, from the National Review:
“Cuckservative” is a term that the “alt-Right” uses to describe a normal conservative (for lack of a better phrase). “Cuck” comes from “cuckold.” The idea is, white conservative men enjoy seeing their wives have sexual relations with dark-skinned men, for the purpose of making the country at large darker.  
Last year, the conservative journalist Ben Shapiro and his wife had a child. Ben sent out a tweet that said, “With infinite gratitude to God, we’re overjoyed to welcome to the world our new baby boy, who arrived at 10:30 this morning.” Ben got the usual torrent of Nazi tweets, wishing his new baby and the rest of the family to the gas chambers. There were tweets showing the Shapiro family as lampshades. And so on.  
Yiannopoulos wrote a tweet of his own. It said, “Prayers to Ben who had to see his kid come out half-black. And already taller than he is!” Accompanying this tweet was a comical picture of a black baby.
And here's something he posted on his Facebook page in October, 2016:


Thursday, February 16, 2017

"The least antisemitic person that you have ever seen in your life"



Two days in a row, Trump refuses to answer a question about antisemitic acts in the US. At his press conference today, he thought that the reporter Jacob Turx, from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish magazine Ami was accusing him of being antisemitic (which he wasn't). Trump got all defensive and said he was "the least antisemitic person that you have ever seen in your life."

Transcript of Trump and Jacob Turx:

TURX: My name is Jake Turx from Ami Magazine, and despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anyone in my community accuse either you yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand you have Jewish grandchildren, and you are their Zeyde (grandfather). However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitic [unintelligible] and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks and there are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to –

TRUMP: See he’s said he’s going to ask a very simple and easy question, and it’s not. It’s not a simple question and not a fair question. OK, sit down, I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story guys. Number One, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have ever seen in your entire life. Number Two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well, relative to other people running as a Republican –

TURX – starts to talk, but

TRUMP – Quiet quiet quiet. See he lied about he was going to ask a very straight simple question. So welcome to the world of the media. So let me just tell you something that I hate the charge, I find it repulsive, I hate even the question, because people who know me, you heard the prime minister, you heard Betanyahu yesterday, you heard him, Bibi, he said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said – forget it. So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like…

TURX – gets up and starts to speak, but Trump calls on the next reporter.

Is anyone paying attention to antisemitic bomb threats?

This is what Jacob Turx asked Trump about today.
"Telephone terrorism" rattles 48 Jewish centers. Is anyone paying attention?

(CNN) Samantha Taylor was at Orlando's Jewish Community Center for a morning meeting when she heard reports of a bomb threat crackle from the director's walkie-talkie.
Her daughter attends preschool there; she ran to the classroom and evacuated with the students and teachers. 
While police and bomb-sniffing dogs searched the building for several hours, the teachers kept the children calm and happy at a safe spot down the street, Taylor said. No explosives were found. 
On the same day, January 4, an Orlando Chabad center also received a threatening call, marking the first trickle in what would soon swell to waves of calls menacing Jewish institutions across the country. 
In all, 48 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando's, received multiple threats. 
In a statement, the FBI said the bureau and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are "investigating possible civil rights violations in connections with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country."

The JTA, a Jewish news agency, says it has obtained a recording of one of the calls. On it, the caller says a C-4 bomb has been placed in the JCC and that "a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered." 
Several JCC sources said the FBI has told them it is investigating the calls as hate crimes. Online, another term has circulated: "telephone terrorism." 
"I've been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented," said Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish organizations on security. "It's more methodical than meets the eye."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Trump administration and antisemitism

Today, at Trump's press conference with Netanyahu, he was asked a very sharp question about the rise of antisemitism in the United States.
Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States.  And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.
Trump didn't answer the question. The only thing he said about Jews was about his own family:
As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends; a daughter who happens to be here right now; a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren.
Netanyahu picked up the ball:
But I’ve known the President and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.  I think we should put that to rest.
This is supposed to make Jews in the United States feel safer? Our president utterly ignores a question about antisemitism, which has risen during and after the election. Some Jews always say at this point - "oh, but what about his Jewish daughter and son-in-law?" Well, what about them? Are they doing anything to make life safer for Jews in the United States? I see no evidence for that.

And as for Netanyahu - he's giving Trump a hechsher because he happens to have known him for a long time? He doesn't speak for the Jewish people. Netanyahu only speaks for himself and his political ambitions.

-----------------------------

Yesterday, Stephen Miller, senior policy advisor and speechwriter for Trump, liked a tweet posted by David Duke. Miller follows Duke on Twitter. Miller is Jewish. Why on earth is he liking something posted by David Duke, notorious Neo-Nazi antisemite?


Miller follows Duke on Twitter, along with Wikileaks, and a lot of different Trump accounts:



Duke just tweeted this today:


What does Miller think about this? - Duke is putting down his boss. 

-----------------------------

And for those who think this is much ado about nothing, a post from a friend on Facebook. A school in Boca Raton, Florida (where she lives) was defaced with swastikas and "Heil Hitler." Apparently the school administration there is doing its best to sweep the incident under the rug.


The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

I was looking at Norman Rockwell paintings earlier tonight and realized how much I like some of them. Many of them are too sentimental and kitschy for my taste, but some are really moving, including this one from 1961 - "The Golden Rule." There is also a large mosaic of the painting at the United Nations. This image is from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. I've never been there even though I've often driven by it when traveling between Ithaca and the Boston area.


What is President Trump's true relation to Russia?


From Josh Marshal -
Step back for a second and look at this. While certainties are hard to come by, it seems clear that Russia broke into computer networks and selectively released private emails to damage Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. When President Obama took a series of actions to punish the Russian government for this interference, President-Elect Trump's top foreign policy advisor made a series of calls to the Russian government's representative in the United States to ask him to have his government refrain from retaliation and suggested that the punishments could be lifted once the new government was sworn in. Then he lied about the calls both publicly and apparently within the White House. What has gotten lost in this discussion is that these questionable calls were aimed at blunting the punishment meted out for the election interference that helped Donald Trump become President. This is mind-boggling. 
Consider another point. 
Through the course of the campaign, transition and presidency, three top Trump advisors and staffers have had to resign because of issues tied to Russia. Paul Manafort, Carter Page and now Michael Flynn. Page might arguably be termed a secondary figure. Manafort ran Trump's campaign and Flynn was his top foreign policy advisor for a year. The one common denominator between all these events, all these men is one person: Donald Trump. 
As I said above, this has all been happening before our eyes, the train of inexplicable actions, the unaccountable ties and monetary connections, the willful, almost inexplicable need to make the case for Vladimir Putin even when the President knows the suspicion he's under. When I was writing my first post on this topic more than 6 months ago, I had the uncanny feeling of finding what I was writing impossible to believe as I wrote it. And yet, I would go through the list of unexplained occurrences and actions, clear business and political connections, sycophantic support and more and realize there was too much evidence to ignore. It was fantastical and yet in plain sight.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Be decent human beings: Subway Riders Scrub Anti-Semitic Graffiti

From the New York Times:
Returning home on Saturday night after a dinner in Manhattan with some longtime friends, Gregory Locke boarded a No. 1 subway train and was confronted with an ugly sight. 
The car’s windows and posters were covered in anti-Semitic graffiti, according to accounts from Mr. Locke and another passenger in the car, Jared Nied. Messages like “Jews belong in the oven” and “destroy Israel, Heil Hitler,” had been written over subway maps, as shown by photographs taken on the train. Swastikas were drawn in black marker on the doors and windows. 
From Gregory Locke's Facebook page.
Mr. Locke, 27, a New York lawyer, said in a phone interview that his first reaction was shock, “especially once I realized how many instances of graffiti were on the train car.”
“But the shock quickly subsides and turns into a sort of a realistic horror,” he said. “You realize it’s appalling but it’s also not surprising at the same time.” 
Neither man reported the graffiti to the police, and neither the New York Police Department nor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had a record of any report. 
Mr. Nied, 36, was returning home from his work as a sous-chef around 7 p.m. and boarded the train at 42nd Street. He said in a phone interview that his reaction to the graffiti, which he noticed immediately, must have been written on his face, and he soon attracted the attention of another commuter. 
“There was a lady sitting across from me under the map, and she said, ‘Oh that’s absolutely horrible,’” he said. “‘Do you think there’s any way we can erase it?’” 
Mr. Nied had many times used a Sharpie when he had meant to use a dry-erase marker, and he knew from experience that alcohol would work to erase the graffiti. 
“A light bulb went on, and I just asked, ‘Does anyone have hand sanitizer?’” he said. 
Mr. Nied and several other commuters began to wipe away the graffiti, their actions captured in photographs taken by Mr. Locke, who wrote on Facebook about his experience. By late Sunday afternoon, more than 518,000 people had reacted to the post on Facebook, and the post had been shared more than 354,000 times.

“I’ve never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purell,” Mr. Locke wrote. “Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone.”....
On Saturday night, Mr. Nied sent a text to his wife, Jacquline, and to a friend with a photograph of the graffiti, but he did not consider the prospect that someone else might have taken photos. He said it had not even crossed his mind until more than an hour later, when his wife looked at her phone. 
“She said, ‘Dude, you’re going viral,’” he recalled. 
He added: “It was a very New York moment in that we all came together, we all teamed up, and then we settled back down. I don’t think any of those people really spoke, truth be told. Everyone kind of just did their jobs of being decent human beings.”

Friday, February 03, 2017

Do you still think Steven Bannon does not endorse antisemitism?

For those who doubt that Steven Bannon endorses antisemitism, see what he presented in an outline for a film on a supposed Muslim takeover of the US.
The outline shows how Bannon, years before he became a strategist for President Trump and helped draft last week’s order restricting travel from seven mostly Muslim countries, sought to issue a warning about the threat posed by radical Muslims as well as their “enablers among us.” Although driven by the “best intentions,” the outline says, institutions such as the media, the Jewish community and government agencies were appeasing jihadists aiming to create an Islamic republic.....
The outline offered an early glimpse of Bannon’s belief that the West and “supremacist” Islam are headed for a “fundamental clash of civilizations,” as the outline said. He later expressed this view publicly as chief of Breitbart News, a site that often features articles about radical Islamists and has provided a platform for the alt-right, a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state. 
“We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism,” he said at a 2014 talk via Skype to a group at the Vatican, according to a transcript first published by BuzzFeed. “And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.” 
“I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam,” he added, citing ancient battles between Christian and Islamic forces.....
The outline warns about “front groups and disingenuous Muslim Americans who preach reconciliation and dialogue in the open but, behind the scenes, advocate hatred and contempt for the West.” 
It names the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America as examples of such “cultural jihadists.” After The Post’s revelation of the 2007 script, CAIR officials on Friday urged Republicans to call for Bannon’s dismissal, saying he promoted “virulently anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.” 
The proposal also lists other “enablers,” including The Post, the New York Times, NPR, “Universities and the Left,” the “American Jewish Community,” the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the White House.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The White House’s soft-core Holocaust denialism

The White House’s soft-core Holocaust denialism
.....Another reading of the White House statement, which was a departure from those issued by both the Obama and Bush administrations, is more sinister. By stripping any reference to Jews from its brief statement, the Trump administration engaged in what Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University historian, calls “soft-core Holocaust denial.” 
.....Trump administration officials reject any such intent, while doubling down to defend their statement as a purposeful act of inclusion. “I mean, everyone’s suffering [in] the Holocaust including, obviously, all of the Jewish people affected and miserable genocide that occurs,” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said.

To expand the Holocaust’s meaning to include “everyone” is to obliterate history. By refusing to name the Holocaust’s primary targets — by positing an infinite number of victims — the mass incineration of Europe’s Jews is minimized and diminished. Right-wing governments in present-day Europe have similarly fudged the historical record
The Nazis perpetrated a staggering number of unspeakable crimes — routine murders; human “medical” experimentation; mass rape — and Hitler’s victims were legion. In the former East Germany or Soviet Union, a visitor to a World War II museum could form the impression that communists were the Nazis’ main victims. 
Yet the Holocaust was a unique crime undertaken on a vast scale, impelled by a focused, sustained hatred, specifically of Jews. That hatred, and that crime, must not be conflated with all Nazi hatreds and all crimes, nor gauzily recalled as one of many such atrocities, nor reimagined as a worn-out grievance. In an extraordinary repudiation of the White House on Monday, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum felt compelled to restate the obvious: “Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus on the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core. . . . As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.’ ”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Israel is seeking clarification on Trump's travel ban

Further consequences of Trump's ban on entry for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan:
From Ha'aretz:
Israel is awaiting clarifications as to whether an executive order  barring entrance to the United States to travelers from seven Muslim countries will apply to Israeli citizens born in these countries, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. 
“We are waiting for the details and the ramifications for Israeli citizens before deciding what our next move will be,” said spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon. 
Many Israelis who immigrated during the early years of the state were born in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria – four of the countries whose citizens have been denied entry into the United States under the highly controversial executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.

But Israel has yet to issue a travel advisory warning them that they might be turned away when entering the United States. The executive order could be interpreted as applying to all individuals from countries on the list, even if they have since left those countries and been naturalized elsewhere, a prominent U.S. immigration lawyer told Haaretz. That would include Israelis, he said. 
Illustrating the uncertainties that some Israelis could face under the new restrictions, a Jew of Yemenite origin who has lived in the United States for many years expressed fear that he might not be let back in before boarding a flight from Tel Aviv to New York on Saturday night.  
In an emotional post on his Facebook page, Manny Damari wrote: “There is a possibility I won't be able to get on that plane back home. This is truly a nightmare. I never thought Mr. Trump's decisions would affect me in any way. 
"I have been living in the United States for almost 11 years. I've waited many years and spent thousands of dollars to obtain my green card and in a few months, I'm supposed to be getting my citizenship. I have done everything legally!
“Many of my friends have contacted me asking what's going to happen. To be honest, I don't know what to expect and I'm a bit nervous. I escaped 'my country' as a kid because of religious persecution to seek refuge in a country I never thought would turn its back on the people who need its help. A country that has opened its doors to immigrants and refugees from across the globe.” 
In a direct appeal to those of his friends celebrating the new restrictions, Damari wrote: “You should know this does not only affect Muslims, but it also affects thousands of Jews and Christians escaping war and religious persecutions. I hope you take a moment to think about it.” 
Dr. Shimon Ohayon, executive director of Bar-Ilan University’s Dahan Center for Culture, Society and Education in the Sephardic Heritage, said: “We are waiting to see what, if any, implications this has for citizens of Israel who come from the countries on the list. Right now, as I understand it, it does not apply to us.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Everybody's suffering in the Holocaust.... Reince Priebus; Sean Spicer: Pathetic

Original Post

I have the feeling that the White House didn't expect the negative reaction to Trump's statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day (see CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/white-house-holocaust-memorial-day/index.html).

Reince Priebus was just as ridiculous today as Hope Hicks was yesterday in defending the statement.

Hicks yesterday: "Administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that the statement did not specifically mention Jews because 'despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,' as quoted in a CNN report published Saturday."

Priebus today: "'I don't regret the words, Chuck. I'm trying to clear it up for you,' Priebus said. 'I mean, everyone's suffering in the Holocaust, including obviously all of the Jewish people affected, and the miserable genocide that occurred is something that we consider extraordinarily sad and something that can never be forgotten and something that, if we could wipe it off the history books we could, but we can't and it's terrible. I mean, I don't know what more to tell you.'"

If Trump is really as close as he says he is to his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, why didn't he consult Kushner on the wording of this statement? He's handed over negotiating between Israel and the Palestinians to Kushner - didn't he trust him to write a statement about Holocaust Remembrance Day? I wonder who actually DID write this statement.

Update - response from Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary:

Spicer: “It was written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and descended from Holocaust survivors [RL: presumably Jared Kushner]. To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people – Jews, gypsies, priests, disabled people - It is pathetic that people are picking on a statement.”

He's saying the same thing as Hicks and Priebus - this is the White House line. Trump's statement, however, didn't actually say anything about Jews, gypsies, priests, or disabled people - it was incredibly vague. Libby Nelson from Vox writes: "Trump’s statement, on the other hand, is so vague that it could apply to nearly any tragic event. Substitute the name of a terrorist attack or mass shooting for 'the Holocaust,' and 'terrorism' or 'gun violence' for 'Nazi terror,' and it wouldn’t seem out of place."

It appears now that Jared Kushner was involved in writing the statement - and if so, why didn't he insist on including the Jews in it? Trump defenders keep telling us that Trump is a friend of the Jews because his daughter and son-in-law are Jews. I don't see any evidence that that helps.

PS. I just read a Vanity Fair article about Kushner - it seems that he's not exactly getting his way in the White House. Perhaps Spicer was lying and Kushner had nothing to do with writing the statement.

PPS, from February 1 - it turns out that the Jewish person descended from Holocaust survivors on the White House staff is not Kushner, but another guy named Boris Epshteyn, according to Talking Points Memo:
Boris Epshteyn, special assistant to President Donald Trump, reportedly wrote the White House's statement commemorating International Holocaust Memorial Day that failed to mention the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.

Epshteyn wrote the much-maligned statement, according to a Politico report that cited an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation.

Society of Biblical Literature statement about the ban on entry from seven Muslim countries

Statement on the travel ban from seven Muslim majority countries from the Society of Biblical Literature:

Statement on the 27 January 2017 U.S. Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

The Society of Biblical Literature’s mission is to foster biblical scholarship in accordance with our core values, which include scholarly integrity, critical inquiry, respect for diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance. This mission of fostering biblical scholarship rests on the firm belief that the study of sacred texts and traditions involves unhindered intellectual exchange among scholars. Such open, scholarly exchange serves the common good by contributing to a broad public understanding of religious texts, traditions, and practices in the modern world. It is for these reasons, for example, that SBL does not endorse academic boycotts.

In 2012, SBL received a grant to explore the establishment of an international and independent network of scholars of the Qur’an. That grant led to the formation of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) in 2014, now an independent affiliate of the SBL and an invaluable partner in the study of sacred texts. As a learned society, IQSA, like SBL, seeks to promote peace through understanding. We thereby stand with our colleagues in Qur’anic and Islamic studies to protest the ban on immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries.

Moreover, the ban encourages discrimination and promotes misleading and sometimes dangerous caricatures of religious people, practices, and texts. It also places obstacles to the travel of Muslim scholars in and out of the United States, and threatens the free exchange of ideas among the Society and partnering and affiliating organizations that advance learning and help make peace and understanding possible. Thus, the Society strongly opposes the ban and its implementation. 29 January 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Green card holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen forbidden to enter US

Ban on Muslims from 7 countries

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | January 27, 2017 – Earlier this afternoon President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (EO) Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, which essentially implements an Arab and Muslim ban. The EO also puts an immediate ban on refugees entering the United States. 
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has already received reports that green card holders and other visa holders have been denied boarding and admission into the United States at the airport. The EO bans nationals and U.S. legal permanent residents (LPR’s – green card holders) from seven countries from entering the United States. The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Additional countries can be added to the list in the future. Specifically, the ban prevents green card and visa holders from those countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days possibly more. 
ADC has developed a toolkit with information about the ban, and the impact on community members. The kit also includes actions you can take. Click here to view the toolkit
ADC is advising nationals in the U.S. who are from the above referenced countries to not travel abroad. You will not be allowed to re-enter the country. ADC will be hosting a Live Discussion on the EO and its ramifications on Monday, January 30 at 2:00 P.M. EST via Facebook Live
ADC’s team of lawyers is reviewing the language of the orders to get a complete and better understanding of the EO in its entirety. We are working on a number of community town halls and forums across the country discussing the orders and there implications on visa holders and refugees. We are also providing regular updates on our official Facebook Page and Twitter feed – be sure to follow both to stay up to date. 
For green card holders (LPRs) and student visa holders denied entry at the border or airport, contact ADC immediately at 202-244-2990, via email at legal@adc.org, via Twitter @adctweets, and through Facebook Messanger
ADC has been diligently working on this matter and doing our best to keep the community informed regarding the possible implications of the EO. The EO demonstrates the Trump Administrations clear agenda to criminalize all immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and persons of Arab ancestry and/or of the Islamic faith. The Trump Administration is manipulating current immigration mechanisms to authorize mass blanket discrimination against entire populations based on national origin, religion and/or ethnicity. 
Make sure to rise with us and make your voice heard. #NoBanNoWall

It's not only refugees from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan who are currently banned from entering the US. Citizens of those countries who have received visas to enter the US are not permitted in. This extends even to those who hold the green cards of permanent residents of the US who are from those countries. If they leave the US they cannot reenter. There are already reports that visa-holders who arrived in the US tonight will be sent back.

Trump, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Syrian Refugees

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On the 27th of January, 1945, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz. At least 1.1 million Jews were murdered there, plus thousands of other victims - Poles, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah's Witnesses, Czechs, White Russians, Germans, French men and women, Russians, Yugoslavians, Ukrainians, and people from several other countries.

Of course, millions more Jews were murdered in other death camps by the Nazis; about 1.5 million Jews were killed in mass shootings in parts of the Soviet Union captured by the Nazis; and hundreds of thousands died in ghettos, to mention only some of the methods of death.

As I have written on this blog before, relatives of mine were also caught up in the Nazi machinery of death. Mordechai Falkon and his wife Dovra Falkon, who lived in Liepaja, Latvia, were murdered in 1941, when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Mordechai was probably murdered with other men in the summer of 1941, while Dovra was probably killed on the beaches of Skede, just north of Liepaja, in mid-December 1941. Other members of the extended family, Sima Schlosberg and her family, from Jelgava, Latvia, fled further east into the Soviet Union when the Nazis came. Sima, her sister Miriam, and one of their parents survived the war.

Mordechai was the uncle of my grandfather Mark Falcon Lesses (born in the United States). Mordechai and his sister Gittel remained in Europe when my great-grandfather Jacob Morris came to the US in 1893. By the mid-1930s Gittel was living with her family in Moscow.

In the years before WWII started, Mordechai, Gittel, and their cousin Sima corresponded with my grandfather.

Mordechai and Sima requested that he furnish them with affidavits to help them immigrate to the United States, which he did. Affidavits were needed to enter the US in addition to immigration visas - which the US was very stingy with for those who wanted to enter from eastern Europe. The 1924 immigration act severely restricted immigration from eastern and southern Europe. Neither Mordechai, Dovra, nor Sima and her family received visas for the US.

The US reluctance to grant visas to desperate Jews trying to escape from the Nazis is well-known now. Jews were not well-liked in the US; the State Department was institutionally antisemitic; President Roosevelt did not go to Congress to try to raise the quotas for central and eastern European countries because he was afraid that would lead to further restrictions.

President Trump chose to commemorate this day in two ways.

First, he issued a generic statement that failed to mention either Jews or antisemitism. Other presidents before him, both Democrats and Republicans, have specifically mentioned Jews. Last year, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, also omitted mentioning Jews in his address on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (His statement today does specifically mention Jews and antisemitism).

Second, Trump suspended the entry of any refugees into the US for 120 days, banned entry for 90 days for people entering the US from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, and forbade any Syrian refugees from entering the US from this time forward. Even those who already have visas from the seven countries will not be permitted to enter the US. These are all Muslim-majority countries, so this is obviously a partial implementation of the "Muslim ban" that he called for during the election.

The executive order will permit the entry of refugees from the above countries who belong religious minorities - in effect giving Christians and others priority above Muslim refugees. The order says that entry of refugees from the above countries should "prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality."

From the Washington Post:
The annual intake of refugees for fiscal 2017 would also fall to 50,000 from more than 100,000 authorized now, according to the order. 
The order also included a new policy that states and localities should have a say in determining whether refugees can resettle there. It calls for the secretary of homeland security to propose a way to make their involvement routine. Governors and mayors, mostly Republicans, have objected to refugees, once they are admitted to the country, being resettled in their jurisdictions, often in small and medium-size cities where the cost of living is lower than it is in big coastal cities.
The US is now committed to keeping out refugees from one of the most hideous conflicts currently occurring - the Syrian civil war. We wasted several years either doing nothing to stop the slaughter or engaging in incompetent measures to stop it. Our inaction gave a green light to the Russians to enter the battle on the side of the murderous Assad regime. We have now officially handed the Syrian people into the hands of their enemies. And Trump's most peculiar affection for Putin and the Russian regime may bring us into an alliance with the murderers.

The most vulnerable refugees - women and children - will now be forbidden to come to the US. Bana Alabed, a young girl who tweeted from besieged Aleppo (with her mother's help), is now prevented from coming to the US.

At least the United States eventually entered the Second World War against the Nazis, even if we were hostile to Jewish refugees and acted very late to help them (1944, when the War Refugee Board was established). By contrast, we are now an enemy to the Syrian people.




Monday, January 16, 2017

Trump's ambassador to Israel and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem

Two good recent articles by Gershom Gorenberg, the first on Trump's dangerous pick for American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and the second on the dangers of Trump's plan to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump’s reckless choice of ambassador is a gift to Israel’s radical right
Trump’s choice of ambassador is a drastic intrusion into Israeli politics on the side of a radical, anti-democratic fringe. The pick signals that Washington is abandoning the goal of a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two states. It signals American assent, even support, for permanent denial of basic rights to Palestinians. In parallel, it undermines moderate Palestinians and empowers extremists. 
Friedman’s tightest personal connection in Israel, by all accounts this week, is Ya’akov Katz, a founder of the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah and of the yeshiva (Talmudic seminary) there. Friedman is president of the U.S. fundraising arm of the Beit El yeshiva. In a radio interview Sunday, Katz said that he and Friedman were “like brothers … it’s a friendship that goes back decades.” Under the yeshiva’s auspices, Katz helped create Arutz 7, originally a pirate radio station, now a digital news platform feeding the echo chamber of hard-line settlers. A couple of terms back, Katz served in the Knesset as head of the National Union, a collection of ultra-nationalist splinter groups. In elections since then, afraid of not getting enough votes to make it into parliament on its own, the party has run as part of Jewish Home — and has put pressure on Bennett at signs of what it regards as ideological compromise. 
Some of Friedman’s own most outrageous statements have been made in articles he wrote for Arutz 7 — his description of supporters of the dovish pro-Israel lobby J Street as “worse than kapos,” his accusation that President Obama emanates “blatant anti-Semitism,” his portrayal of Israel’s Arab citizens as disloyal freeloaders on its health system and universities. But he talks to the mainstream press as well. It was in an interview to Haaretz that Friedman said that “nobody really knows how many Palestinians live there,” meaning the West Bank. That’s not a throw-away line; it’s a pledge of allegiance to the demography-denial school of the Israeli right, which reduces Palestinian population figures to “prove” that annexation of the West Bank won’t create a binational state.
Capital Offense
Among experts, the most optimistic estimation is that the diplomatic and security impact on Israel and the United States [of moving the embassy to Jerusalem] will be merely awful, not apocalyptic. I do not take comfort even from such “upbeat” assessments, perhaps because I live a few hundred meters from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem—which, with the switch of a sign, will become the embassy, and quite possibly the focus for violent protests....

Now, to acknowledge the obvious: Jerusalem is, in fact, Israel's capital. It's where the parliament, the prime minister's residence and the supreme court are located. Israel doesn't put its embassy to the United States in, say, Philadelphia. Why shouldn't America recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? 
The answer to this is another question: Precisely which Jerusalem does the Trump regime intend to recognize as Israel's capital?...
....Several years ago, the United States built a large new consulate in Jerusalem. City planning officials have said that it's intended to be the embassy, if and when America makes the move. A change of sign is all that's needed. In 2014, the U.S. also bought the neighboring plot, the site of the Diplomat Hotel, now a senior citizens' home.
As I mentioned, the new consulate is near my home. I live inside the Green Line. The consulate grounds, on the other hand, straddle the line. Part is in the pre-1967 no-man's land. The Diplomat plot is mostly or entirely in no-man's land.

If the consulate was planned to serve as an embassy—perhaps to Palestine as well as Israel—after peace, the location would be nicely symbolic. If turned into an embassy today, it will be a declaration in concrete that the United States accepts de jure Israeli rule beyond the Green Line. In turn, that's recognition of Israel sovereignty over the Islamic and Christian holy sites....

If the embassy is moved, “The Palestinian Authority is certain to boycott the U.S. administration,” says Professor Samir Awad, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank and an expert on relations with America. “It will jeopardize relations with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world, and ... in Latin America.” Awad cautiously estimates that a new Palestinian uprising is unlikely, but “violence will escalate. Whatever exists now will double.”

Nor will the United States be immune, in Kurtzer's assessment. “The Muslim community in Islamabad might just take aim at the American Embassy, or in Jakarta or somewhere else. ... The best case scenario is that the world doesn't fall apart, it just gets ruined in significant ways.”

If Trump asks for briefing papers, if he meets with policy professionals, if he even talks to the men he has chosen to be the secretaries of defense and state, he'll hear that moving the embassy will cause a blow-up. We live wildly unpredictable times, so it's even possible that Trump will take advice. It seems, though, that he likes defying advice and making things blow up. But for the sake of all that's holy, Mr. Trump, things blow up in Jerusalem too often. Please go cause trouble somewhere else.