Jediism

A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well.

Jake Turx, an Orthodox Jewish reporter for Ami Magazine, a weekly published in Brooklyn, began to ask President Trump a question regarding bomb threats at Jewish centers. Mr. Trump, apparently believing he was being accused of anti-Semitism, reprimanded the reporter.

Jake Turx is a newly minted White House correspondent for a publication that has never before had a seat in the White House press corps: Ami Magazine, an Orthodox Jewish weekly based in Brooklyn. He is a singular presence in the briefing room: a young Hasidic Jew with side curls tucked behind his ears and a skullcap embroidered with his Twitter handle.

Dear @PressSec @seanspicer,
Please call on me at the next press briefing. I’m the guy w/ the words “Jake Turx” on my kippa.
(RT this y’all!)

When President Trump called on him at a news conference on Thursday, saying he was looking for a “friendly reporter,” Mr. Turx was prepared. He had spent an hour crafting a question about a recent surge of anti-Semitism, with a preamble that he hoped would convey his supportive disposition toward Mr. Trump.

But the exchange did not go the way he expected. A few hours later, with the clip replaying on social media and Jewish groups issuing news releases, Mr. Turx, 30, was still reeling. He said in a telephone interview, “Regretfully, today was a day I wish we could have done over.”

His editor, Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, watched aghast from the magazine’s offices as his young correspondent received a tongue-lashing from the president: “It was a very disheartening moment for us, to watch him being berated.”

Continue reading the main story

The exchange began with Mr. Turx standing up from his third-row seat and gesturing slightly toward his fellow reporters:

“Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zayde,” which is Yiddish for “grandfather” and often a word of great affection.

At that Mr. Trump nodded slightly, and said, “thank you.”

“However,” Mr. Turx continued, “what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——”

At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was “not a fair question.”

“Sit down,” the president commanded. “I understand the rest of your question.”

As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, “So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”

Mr. Turx tried to interject, realizing how the encounter had turned. He said he had wanted to clarify that he in no way meant to accuse Mr. Trump of anti-Semitism but instead intended to ask what his administration could do to stop the anti-Semitic incidents.

But Mr. Trump would not let him speak again, saying, “Quiet, quiet, quiet.” As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple.

Mr. Trump said, “I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me. …”

He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during his visit to the United States on Wednesday, had vouched for Mr. Trump as a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people and no anti-Semite.

Mr. Trump concluded that Mr. Turx should have relied on Mr. Netanyahu’s endorsement, “instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.”

“Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,” Mr. Trump said.

At the news conference, Mr. Turx was referring to a rash of incidents that have shaken many American Jews since Mr. Trump was elected. On three separate days in January, Jewish synagogues, community centers and schools across the country received what seemed to be a coordinated wave of telephone bomb threats that led to evacuations and F.B.I. investigations. Other Jewish institutions have seen an uptick in vandalism and graffiti in the last few months.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement on Thursday that said, “It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction.”

David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Committee, said, “Respectfully, Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing.”

Surveys show that Mr. Trump was not the choice of the majority of American Jews, who tend to vote for Democrats and came out in force for Hillary Clinton. Many Jews have been critical of Mr. Trump for not more forcefully denouncing anti-Semites and racists like David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who endorsed Mr. Trump during the campaign. Many Jewish leaders are also wary of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s White House strategist, because of the close affinity between Breitbart News, which he once ran, and the white supremacists in the movement known as the alt-right.

But Mr. Trump was popular among many Orthodox Jews. They were reassured to see the Orthodox Jews in his family and attracted to his hawkish line on Israel, his support of vouchers for religious schools and his promise to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

Rechy Frankfurter and her husband, Rabbi Frankfurter, founded Ami Magazine more than six years ago to serve a conservative Jewish audience. It circulates in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and is one of several English-language news publications serving the ultra-Orthodox community. Ami Magazine comes out weekly and has three sister publications: one for women, one for teens and a cooking magazine called Whisk.

The magazine interviewed Mr. Trump before he declared he was running for president and did so again during the campaign.

“We didn’t do a political endorsement of him, but I really wanted the president to be elected, and I do want him to succeed,” said Rabbi Frankfurter, the editor in chief.

Mrs. Frankfurter, the magazine’s senior editor, said it was clear that Mr. Trump was not an anti-Semite and that Mr. Trump “must have misheard the question” from the magazine’s reporter. “The president is very sensitive to such an accusation, and we find the fact that he’s sensitive to it reassuring,” she said, because it means he understands how awful it is to be thought of as an anti-Semite.

Rabbi Frankfurter, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said, “Perhaps the president should speak out more vigorously than he has. He’s got a bully pulpit, and he should use it for good reasons.”

After the news conference, Mr. Turx, a pen name, said that he had had conversations on Thursday evening with White House staff members and that he and members of the Orthodox Jewish community were “extremely confident” that the White House would give “the proper help, guidance and collaboration” on anti-Semitism.

 

You Can Now Read The Whole Talmud Online – For Free

Given that it’s is one if not the most essential Jewish texts, the Talmud can be surprisingly hard to come by. But not anymore: The Jewish start-up Sefaria just released a free digital version into the public domain.

The William Davidson Talmud is an edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations into English and Modern Hebrew.

The interactive online version of the text is also interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts.

And you can also use it beyond Sefaria’s website. The Talmud was published with a Creative Commons non-commercial license, which means that it is part of the public domain and everyone can use and re-use it, as long as you don’t make money from it.

“The Talmud will now belong to, and be freely accessible by, all people in the two languages spoken by 90% of world Jewry,” Sefaria co-founder Joshua Foer told the Forward.

“Experts we’ve talked to believe this is the most significant work of intellectual property ever transferred into the creative commons philanthropically,” he added.

The whole project was years in the making.

Sefaria is a non profit that was started in 2011 by author, Joshua Foer, and Google alum Brett Lockspeiser, with a mission of putting the entire Jewish canon online. (The name Sefaria is a play on the Hebrew word for library, sifria.)

The two childhood friends had lost touch for many years, but reconnected over a “shared frustration” that the Talmud and other important Jewish texts were not accessible online.

“At that point, if you were to google the English Talmud, you would find pdfs from the Soncino edition published in England, you would get an anti-Semitic website and you would get a partial 1918 translation,” Foer told the Forward. “That by itself was kind off pathetic.”

So they quickly got to work, and have since amassed almost 1,600 Jewish texts and commentaries that are all available online.

“But we always knew the linchpin of the whole project would be whether we could get an English translation of the Talmud,” Foer said.

Currently, there exist only three English translations in the world. After years of negotiations Sefaria (with a grant from the William Davidson Foundation) bought the rights to one of them – from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Steinsaltz, a rabbi from Israel, spent 45 years of his life translating the Talmud from Ancient Aramaic to modern Hebrew and English.

He was only 27 when the project began, and finished in 2010, after releasing a new section of the translation approximately once per year.

“I did it because it is necessary,” Steinsaltz told Israel’s Army Radio in 2010. “The Talmud is the spine of our culture … I wanted to restore to the Jewish people their heritage.”

As of now, Sefaria published 22 Talmud tractates in English (Berakhot to Bava Batra) online. The Modern Hebrew translations will start appearing online later this year, and the remaining English tractates will follow as soon as their are finished.

“We think that the Talmud is not just the life blood of the Jewish people, but one of the great works of Western civilization that has basically been inaccessible to a large number of people,” Foer told the Forward.

His co-founder, Brett Lockspeiser, who runs Sefaria’s technological operations, called the online release “fantastic.”

“It’s a real accomplishment for us, and the Jewish people in the world to now be able to access this,” Lockspeiser told the Forward.

All the texts on Sefaria are not only texts, they are also interconnected data with lots of fancy features and visualization tools.

“The Jewish canon is not really a collection of books on a book shelf, it’s like this gigantic un-ending conversation,” Foer told the Forward. “We wanted to return that text to the original modality of being fully interconnected and in conversation with each other.”

“And in doing in way, that you can take the conversation form text to text to text, from commentator to commentator to commentator,” Foer said.

A team of 15 engineers works daily to create new ways to create these interconnections – for example to show the connections between Tanakh and Talmud or to highlight all the times that text is being repeated in the Jewish canon.

Users can create their own source sheets to collect and connect texts, sort of like a Torah mixtape. So far 60,000 users created sheets – many of them students.

If possible, all the texts on Sefaria have a public domain license.

“For the Jewish people, our texts are our collective inheritance,” said Sefaria CEO Daniel Septimus. “They belong to everyone and Sefaria wants them to be available to everyone,”

 

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”? It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.

These terms intrigue me because they directly speak to the doggedly tribal nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You don’t hear of too many other countries being universally spoken of this way. Why these two? Both Israelis and Palestinians are complex, with diverse histories and cultures, and two incredibly similar (if divisive) religions. To come down completely on the side of one or the other doesn’t seem rational to me.

It is telling that most Muslims around the world support Palestinians, and most Jews support Israel. This, of course, is natural — but it’s also problematic. It means that this is not about who’s right or wrong as much as which tribe or nation you are loyal to. It means that Palestinian supporters would be just as ardently pro-Israel if they were born in Israeli or Jewish families, and vice versa. It means that the principles that guide most people’s view of this conflict are largely accidents of birth — that however we intellectualize and analyze the components of the Middle East mess, it remains, at its core, a tribal conflict.

By definition, tribal conflicts thrive and survive when people take sides. Choosing sides in these kinds of conflicts fuels them further and deepens the polarization. And worst of all, you get blood on your hands.

So before picking a side in this latest Israeli-Palestine conflict, consider these 7 questions:

***

1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban. Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers, wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report. Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad, who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimesoutright cruelty of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of dead.

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.

***

2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so accurately what’s happening today?

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32

Or this one?

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8

There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you—then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51

What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves. It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently political.

***

3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.

Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies. Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media. Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate” response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks. Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?

***

4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.

“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that thehuman shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side, inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them as a weapon.

You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably, Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.

***

5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli settlers who refused to leave wereforcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended toreduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region, it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a fewfor its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to abhor Hamas, here it was.

***

6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters. When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason, however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire. But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the opposite on both fronts.

***

7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are oftenreckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of lowered expectations.

However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2. Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — hasunequivocally opposed it. There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:

“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t, it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against their will. It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis, knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way. And I’m afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved. And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”

As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israelcould end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them are pretty.

***

Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances. But it’s been almost 70 years. There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.

If they keep asking you to pick a side after all of that, tell them you’re going with hummus.

Chuka Umunna – Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn

Labour Jews to Chuka Umunna – Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn!

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 23.18.01

Dear Chuka Umunna,

We write as Jews who are members of the Labour Party. Some of us are also members of Momentum. We were shocked to witness the cynical manner in which you weaponised false allegations of antisemitism to launch an attack on the leader of the Labour party and on Momentum at the session of the Home Affairs Committee on Monday July 4th.

Some of the comments made at the press conference launching the Chakrabarti inquiry on June 30 by Mr Wadsworth (not a representative of Momentum as you claimed) were rude and unwarranted, however there is no evidence they were motivated by antisemitism. Wadsworth was clearly angry that the Daily Telegraph journalist had shared one of his leaflets with Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. He makes no reference to Ms Smeeth’s religion and asserts he had no knowledge she was Jewish and there is no evidence that this is not true. We have searched assiduously, including scrutinising the video footage of the incident, but have found no evidence of antisemitism, as opposed to incivility, in his words or actions.

The questions about Mr Wadsworth had been asked and answered several times by the time you asked your questions. Quite evidently your questions were not designed to elicit information but to pursue an internal Labour Party vendetta in a public forum. This relentless concentration on a confection designed to damage the Labour Party inhibits proper discussion on an important report into how the Labour Party can be more effective in combatting all forms of racism including antisemitism.

In your questioning you repeatedly employed guilt by association. For instance, you made reference to David Watson’s case. This is still under investigation and, as your legal background should have informed you, the allegations against him currently remain untested and unproven. These are allegations that, had you performed due diligence before asking your questions, you would have known are based on flimsy, if not fabricated, evidence.

We have been quite unable to detect any hint of animosity towards Jews in any of Watson’s social media posts. His critique of Zionism is one that many Jews share, in particular that the political Zionism dominant in Israel today is a racist ideology, both discriminating against Palestinians and stereotyping Jews as incapable of living alongside non-Jews in diverse societies. To then suggest that anyone who shares a platform with Watson is implicitly condoning antisemitism, and further that Jeremy Corbyn is answerable for all events organised by Momentum, is absurd.

You cite the example of the Oxford University Labour Club, and claim that “time and time again in these incidents of activity” in which offence is caused “to and against Jewish people Momentum seems to pop up quite frequently”. Yet Baroness Royall found no evidence of institutional antisemitism in OULC, and reported on at least one case of serious false allegations of antisemitism which had been reported to the police.

We ask you to cease your relentless undermining of the Labour Party. It would be more appropriate for you to concentrate your considerable energy on working to unite the Party so that we can displace this destructive Tory Government as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Sue
Bard
Edinburgh East & Musselburgh
Graham
Bash
Hackney North
Haim
Bresheeth
Hornsey & Wood Green
Sylia
Cohen
Finchley & Golder’s Green
Ruth
Conlock
Manchester Withington
Judith
Cravitz
North Islington
Mike
Cushman
Streatham
Miriam
David
Islington North
Kenneth
Fryde
Cambridge
Alex J
Goldhill
Ealing Central & Acton
Tony
Greenstein
Brighton Kemptown
Mike
Howard
Hastings & Rye
Riva
Joffe
Holborn & St Pancras
Michael
Kalmanovitz
Hampstead & Kilburn
Shlomit
Ferguson
Enfield North
Arye
Finkle
Chipping Barnet
Abe
Hayeem
Harrow East
Rosamine
Hayeem
Harrow East
Richard
Kuper
Holborn & St Pancras.
Frank
Land
South West Devon
Stephanie
Lee
Gorton
Leah
Levane
Hastings & Rye
Rachel
Lever
Hastings & Rye
Yosefa
Loshitzky
Hornsey & Wood Green
Kay
Manasseh
Streatham
Miriam
Margolyes
Vauxhall
Stephen
Marks
Oxford
Karen
Merkel
East Ham
Diana
Neslen
Ilford South
Dr Brian
Robinson
Milton Keynes
Denise
Robson
Gateshead
Jonathan
Rosenhead
Hackney South & Shoreditch
Rina
Rosselson
Brent Central
Ian
Saville
Brent Central
Glyn
Secker
Dulwich & West Norwood
Roger
Silverman
West Ham
Vanessa
Stilwell
Dulwich & West Norwood
Stephen
Tiller
Hackney South & Shoreditch
Jackie
Walker
South Thanet
Sam
Weinstein
Hampstead & Kilburn
Naomi
Wimborne-Idrissi
Chingford & Woodford Green

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Experiencing ‘Spiritual Meltdown of Historic Proportions, and Turning to Jesus.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man looks down from a rooftop at a mass prayer in Jerusalem March 2, 2014.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man looks down from a rooftop at a mass prayer in Jerusalem March 2, 2014

Analysis from a news portal on the Messianic Jewish community in Israel has claimed that some in the Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, who are often opposed to Jewish people turning to Jesus Christ, are experiencing a “spiritual meltdown of historic proportions” and are reexamining their beliefs.

“It would appear that the haredi community is quietly experiencing a spiritual meltdown of historic proportions. These people, who literally spend all their waking hours in Torah learning, are so starved for the real Word of the LORD that hundreds are willing to read ‘forbidden’ material in order to find Him,” Kehila News reported, reflecting on a Hebrew-language article published earlier in June on MyNet, the city of Petach Tikva’s news site.

Kehila News said that the article serves as a warning to citizens in the city to “beware of the propaganda” being distributed by Messianic groups, which is a common complaint by the haredi against Jesus-believing Jewish people.

The news portal argued that in part, the article is nothing special, as it makes the same accusations against the Messianic community as it does every year, namely that Jesus followers are practicing deceit by embracing Jewish customs, that their leaders are motivated by lucrative salaries, that they recruit new believers through entrapment, and indoctrinate minors to leave the Jewish faith.

Christians and Jewish followers of Christ are often accused of such actions by the haredi, which has also led to legislation seeking to supress religious freedom. In June 2015 it was announced that the Jerusalem Municipalityhas been obliged to consult with the city’s Rabbis before allowing Christians to host events in the city, fearful of gatherings that would see to convince Jews to follow Jesus.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have protested Christian gatherings on many other occasions as well, including an instance in May 2014 where they grouped at the site of the Last Supper near Jerusalem ahead of Pope Francis’ visit at the time, arguing that the presence of Christians violates their beliefs.

Later, the MyNet article takes a turn, however, as it suggests that Messianic Jews might be good for the nation, and positioned that followers of Christ may have more to fear from the haredim than vice versa.

The article seemingly admits, Kehila News stated, that material about Jesus is drawing in hundreds of new adherents from the haredi community, which is supposed to be strongly opposed to missionary efforts.

The report argued that the admission is remarkable, as anti-missionary publications always dismiss Jews who turn to Jesus as people who have been alienated by their Jewish heritage, or who are ignorant of the Jewish Bible.

Kehila News added: “A few Israeli believers were asked by MyNet if they understood why the ultra-orthodox are so hostile toward us. Their answers focused on what the haredim think of us, ranging from the perception that they ‘sometimes come to accept us after they get to know us’ … to the conviction that ‘they are against us no matter what we do.'”

The news portal reflected that the “real reason” behind anti-missionary panic in Petach Tikva is that the “Messiah is so powerfully reaching those of our people who have lived all their lives ‘behind the Torah Curtain,'” that even the haredi are recognizing the truth now.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/ultra-orthodox-haredi-jews-spiritual-meltdown-turning-to-jesus-165448/#VRKrQLSOwJC5GKKr.99

Police investigate after windows of kosher restaurant is smashed in Edgware, north London

Shattered windows: Orli Cafe, in Hale Lane (Picture: @shomrimlondon)

Police are investigating after the windows of a kosher restaurant in north London were smashed.

It was initially suggested gun shots shattered the windows of Orli Cafe, in Hale Lane, Edgware, at 5.30pm this evening.

But a police spokesman confirmed a “projectile” was thrown at the window, possibly from a vehicle driving past.

Police said there have been four incidents of windows being smashed across Edgware and Barnet this evening, including one other building and two vehicles.

The attacks are “random” and it is unknown if there is anti-Semitic motive, police said.

A Met spokesman said: “There have been four incidents across Edgware and Barnet of windows being smashed by a projectile of some sort, some people think it is a marble. There is no obvious motive.

“We are trying to establish if it was a vehicle or vehicles.”

Nobody has been injured in the incidents.

Jewish charity Community Security Trust are also helping police with the investigation.

The charity tweeted:  “Initial investigation suggests firearm not used at Edgware kosher restaurant, may be linked to other non-antisemitic incident in area.”

Heaven – Do You Qualify? Not likely according to The Scriptures! Watch the video..

Find out if you will be going to heaven according to the bible!

Mike, a doctor, and Brandon, an app developer, both skeptics, collaborated to make the Android app, “The Atheist’s Ally”. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.punch.back&hl=en

After further scriptural analysis they have now produced “Heaven – Do You Qualify”. The video allows you to assess your personal chances of getting to heaven.

If you like the video, please LIKE and SHARE :)

Enjoy!

North London Jewish community ‘in fear’ as vandals scrawl swastikas on homes

Swastika shomrim north london

Met arrests a 32-year-old man in connection with the campaign of vandalism in Stamford Hill.

Anti-Semitic vandals have targeted a community of orthodox Jews in North London, defacing cars, walls and windows with swastikas.

Police investigating the vandalism, which targeted vehicles and homes in Stamford Hill, home to around 20,000 Haredi Jews, arrested a 32-year-old man on Tuesday.

On Sunday swastikas were sprayed on up to 27 cars on and around Osbaldeston Road, leaving residents feeling “vulnerable”, local Shulem Stern told IBTimes UK.

swastika north london shomrim

Sunday’s incident follows a similar case in which Swastikas were sprayed onto the walls of a local primary school(Shomrim UK)

The night of vandalism prompted extra patrols from the Metropolitan Police and Shomrim UK, a volunteer “neighbourhood patrol” group which works with local police in the area.

Stern, one volunteer, said Shomrim had stepped up its patrols and “camped out” on the road “to keep a watchful eye” following a flurry of calls to its hotline reporting the crimes.

“Acts of vandalism like these affect the community really badly”, said Stern. “I spoke to a disabled female victim whose window was spray-painted with a swastika. She was scared that the person had come right up to her window and could have easily broken into her home that way.

“This is mindless individuals trying to create tension in a unique area. The vast majority of people living here live in harmony.”

Another Shomrim volunteer, Meir Taub, said: “There is a large Jewish community that lives here with Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivoers, and to see swastikas is not a pleasant thing for them. People were shocked, scared and fearful.

“A lot of damage was caused to a lot of vehicles and there was a lot of concern.”

swastikas shomrim anti semitism attack north london shomrim

The Met stepped up patrols in Stamford Hill following the campaign of racist graffiti(Shomrim UK)

This incident follows recent cases where swastikas were sprayed on to the walls of a local primary school.

This summer, as tensions from the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza reached the UK, north London’s Jewish community were the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes including verbal abuse and racist graffiti.

Shomrim UK’s coordinator Barry Bard said on Tuesday: “Shomrim are committed to bring a stop to these senseless and mindless acts of vandalism, and are working closely with the police investigation to assist in every possible way.

“Similar swastikas have appeared in the same area over the past few weeks. Police are taking these incidents very seriously and are treating it as a hate crime.”

By knocking on doors and interviewing witnesses, Shomrim UK was able to identify a suspect and pass a name on to police. Police have since arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with the vandalism.

Police Inspector Jeff Bull said: “We will not tolerate anti-Semitism or racism of any kind. We are doing our utmost to trace and bring to justice the suspects involved in this racist graffiti as well as reassure all of our communities.”

Hackney police tweeted: “With the help of @ShomrimOfficial a 32 year old man has been arrested & is in custody for the anti-Semitic criminal damage series in N16.”