All posts by ASW Secretary

US Woman, punished for observing Passover, sues ex- employer

“It takes some chutzpah for the government to punish a Jewish woman for celebrating Passover,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket. “That didn’t work out so well for Pharaoh.”

Susan Abeles worked for the MWAA for 26 years and each year was given approved time off to observe Passover in accordance with her Orthodox Jewish beliefs. In 2013, Ms. Abeles followed the same procedure, giving ample notice and several reminders about her upcoming time off. However, when she returned to work, her superiors accused her of failing to follow proper protocol for obtaining leave. Eventually they forced her into early retirement.

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MWAA claims that even though it was specifically created by Congress and exercises powers Congress gave it, MWAA has nothing to do with the federal government. At the same time MWAA says it is not subject to state laws either. That would lead to the absurd and frightening result that MWAA is a law until itself.

Unsurprisingly, Becket and the American Jewish Committee argue that MWAA is not above the law.

Passover is observed for eight days, and Jewish religious law prohibits work during the first two and last two days. Millions of Orthodox Jews like Ms. Abeles have observed Passover for thousands of years, yet the MWAA’s policy is to simply ignore this important religious holiday.

“This case is just one more example of the rampant antisemitism that Orthodox Jews face every day,” said Rassbach. “In recent years there has been a concerted effort to keep the Orthodox out of certain neighborhoods, out of certain schools, and out of certain jobs. The Fourth Circuit [Court of Appeals] can send a strong message in favor of interreligious understanding by recognizing MWAA’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations to believers.”

Read more here.

Another nail in the coffin for NUS

On 20th April, AntiSemitismWatch predicted the break-up of the National Union of Students following the controversial election of Malia Bouattia as its president. We suggested it was the only viable option left for those disillusioned by the continued direction of the organisation.

Loughborough University is the latest to announce it has ditched the NUS in protest at its divisive policies and president.

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This comes ahead of decisions by three more major institutions.

Students voted in favour of quitting at the end of May, with 54% demanding to leave. Ratification was confirmed by the trustees of the students’ union, who announced last night they would act on the referendum result and leave.

A tide of revulsion at the NUS was prompted by the election of president-elect Malia Bouattia, who famously refused to condemn ISIS and has been widely accused of anti-Semitism.

York, Nottingham and Durham universities are voting on the NUS now, and will return decisions on whether to disaffiliate later this week.

Newcastle, Hull and Lincoln have already voted to quit the NUS, starving it of vital revenue raised by a levy on the student population.

According to the Guido Fawkes blog, Loughborough’s departure will cost the NUS £3million in lost fees.

Recalling the pogrom against Iraqi Jews on the evening of mass terror attack in Tel Aviv

This Wednesday evening, four people have died following a mass terrorist shooting in the centre of Tel Aviv.

Up to six others have been injured in the attack, which took place at a popular open-air food market.

A police commander said two Palestinian gunmen from the West Bank were behind the “harsh terror attack”, and both were “neutralised” at the scene.

Local reports suggest one of the gunmen had been disguised as an ultra-Orthodox Jew.

One of the alleged attackers was arrested, and a doctor has told Sky News that the other suspect is in a stable condition after being taken to hospital for treatment.

Only the bravery of security guards at the market managed to avert a bigger disaster by stopping the attackers from going inside.

 

This news came in as we were preparing an article recalling the 75 years since the Farhud, the two-day pogrom that befell the Jews of Baghdad, in June 1941.

When the Farhud—which means, in Arabic, “violent dispossession”—erupted, there were around 90,000 Jews still living in the Iraqi capital, the main component of a vibrant community descended from the sages who, 27 centuries earlier, had made the land once known as Babylon the intellectual and spiritual center of Judaism.

A monument in Ramat Gan, Israel, serves as a memorial for the Iraqi Jews killed during the Farhud (Arabic for ‘violent dispossession’) in June 1941.
A monument in Ramat Gan, Israel, serves as a memorial for the Iraqi Jews killed during the Farhud (Arabic for ‘violent dispossession’) in June 1941.

By the time the violent mob stood down, at the end of the festival of Shavuot, nearly 200 Jews lay dead, with hundreds more wounded, raped, and beaten. Hundreds of homes and businesses were burned to the ground.

As the smoke cleared over a scene more familiar in countries like Russia, Poland, and Germany, the Jewish community came to the realization that it had no future in Iraq. Within a decade, almost the entire community had been chased out, joining a total of 850,000 Jews from elsewhere in the Arab world summarily dispossessed from their homes and livelihoods.

AntiSemitismWatch comment: The poignancy of yet another unprovoked terrorist attack on Jews, 75 years on from the Farhud, should be clear to all. If you want to do something, pray for all those affected by tonight’s outrage, share the story of the Farhud and stay strong.

Click here to read more about the Farhud.

 

Repeat desecration of French synagogue

The President of CRIF, the representative umbrella body of the French Jewish community, has strongly condemned the discovery of anti-Semitic tags on the front of the synagogue in Verdun and on the Rabbi’s house.

55957_detail_tags antisémites verdun

Swastikas and the inscription ” white power ” were daubed on the synagogue during the weekend, nearly two months after a first desecration, said Jean-Claude Levy, president of the Jewish community in this city of eastern France.

” It’s the police who informed me. I went there and saw swastikas on the wall of the synagogue as well as the inscription ‘white power’’, he explained.

” The vandalism of a place of worship is unacceptable. I strongly condemn the anti-Semitic tags on the Verdun synagogue, ” said CRIF President Francis Kalifat on his Twitter account.

The president of the Jewish community of Verdun has asked to secure the synagogue to prevent such incidents from recurring. “The only solution we have is to secure the place. We will do everything to protect it. I’ll contact the Jewish Central Consistory of France,” Levy said.

Follow this link to the original article here.

Twitter’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism leads New York Times editor to pack up

Inundated with anti-Semitic tweets and frustrated by Twitter’s initial response, New York Times editor Jon Weisman is packing up and leaving the social media platform.

Twitter - doing too little too late on anti-Semitism?
Twitter – doing too little too late on anti-Semitism?

Weisman said Wednesday — in a tweet — that he will be “moving to Facebook where at least people need to use their real names and can’t hide behind fakery to spread their hate.”

The deputy editor of the Times’ Washington bureau and a published novelist, Weisman has more than 34,000 followers and a coveted blue check mark indicating his account is verified.

But his prominence also made Weisman, who is Jewish, a frequent target of anti-Semitic trolls. Fed up, Weisman said one of the Times’ social media gurus forwarded a compendium of some of those tweets to Twitter on Monday.

In one tweet, Weisman was referred to as a “kike.” Another threatened to have him put “in the oven.”

Weisman said that Twitter responded by saying the tweets didn’t violate the company’s rules and none of the users would be suspended.

By late Wednesday morning, however, Twitter appeared to change course. The two accounts that Weisman linked to earlier in the day have since been suspended.

Weisman said that, although his complaints have clearly been heard, it is still a mystery why some users get booted and others do not.

“I started getting notifications from Twitter that accounts are being suspended as soon as I said I was quitting Twitter, so yes, somebody is listening,” Weisman told CNNMoney in an email. “Not all the accounts that I reported, however, are being blocked. I really don’t understand what is deemed acceptable and what is over the line.”

Weisman isn’t sure if he will abandon Twitter for good. The company’s actions on Wednesday suggest they don’t want to lose him.

“They seem to be trying to get me back already,” Weisman said.

Read more here.

Pathetic CUNY response to “Zionist pig” outrage

The City University of New York disciplinary committee has handed down the minimum punishment to two Brooklyn College students involved in a Students for Justice in Palestine protest. They had invaded a faculty meeting and called a Jewish faculty professor a “Zionist pig.”

CUNYThe two seniors at the university, had faced possible expulsion after their participation in the February protest where, the college president also alleged , students made anti-Semitic statements.

But on May 20, the two were found “not culpable” of most charges.

They received the minimal penalty of “admonition,” the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a statement .

CUNY is the university, by the way, that the New York State Senate voted to slash $485 million of its funding to “send a message” that they have not done enough to fight campus anti-Semitism.

The radical decision was all the more poignant considering the university was once frequently referred to as “the Jewish Harvard”.

State Senator Ken LaValle of Long Island, chair of the chamber’s committee on higher education, described a pattern of anti-Semitic incidents, “and these are the things that the Senate Republican conference says are intolerable and must stop.”

Mort Klein, the president of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), praised the move to defund. The group, who sent an open letter to the University, has been at the forefront of challenging CUNY to take action.

Shocking anti-Semitic abuse faced by young US politician

A young Jewish candidate for Congress in California has been targeted with shocking anti-Semitic abuse just days prior to the state’s primary election.

Erin Schrode (photo from LinkedIn)
Erin Schrode (photo from LinkedIn)

Erin Schrode, 25, whose underdog campaign against incumbent Jared Huffman has attracted recent media attention, has been hit with the abuse on social media and text messages, she revealed in a Facebook post late Saturday night.

Personal information such as her phone number and email also were posted online.

Among the messages she has received, Schrode said, are “Everyone knows it’s TIME for America’s first evil retarded teen c— Congress kike!”; “Fire up the oven!” and “All would laugh with glee as they gang raped her and then bashed her bagel eating brains in.”

She called the messages “Indiscriminate hatred. Pure evil.”

Writing on Facebook, Schrode said, “I cannot and will not remain silent. I have never been much good at standing idly by in the face of injustice. I am not writing these words to spark an outpouring of sympathy, but rather to call attention to the fact that pointed, blatant hatred is rampant and on the uptick at this moment in history, particularly in the context of a fear-based election cycle. Those who know me can attest to the fact that I have spoken out time and time again when I have NOT been the one targeted. I am a citizen activist through and through – who refuses to give that shrug of inevitability.”

She added: “We must not stand silent in the face of hatred, violence, attacks, bullying, or oppression; we cannot recoil in fear; we cannot lose our sense of human dignity and respect. May we respond with a chorus of positive voices and powerful action. May we rise up and not only preach tolerance, but understanding and love.”

The FBI has been notified of the cowardly attacks made by anonymous trolls and local police have agreed to step up their visibility in her home neighbourhood.

Read more here.

New social media anti-Semitism fightback tactic

So what do we think about the latest anti-Semitic fightback tactic?

AntiSemitismWatch has previously reported on the rapid rise of the use of social media by anti-Semites to ‘troll’ or otherwise harass Jewish journalists, groups, politicians and others with Jewish-sounding names. The European Union just recently launched an initiative with the major social media companies to combat the problem.

Indeed, until it was removed last week, a user-generated Google Chrome extension allowed those who installed it to identify Jews and coordinate online attacks against them.

social-mediaLast week, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the US newspaper, The Atlantic, decided to fight back. He changed his Twitter username to (((Goldberg))), co-opting a symbol that neo-Nazis use to brand Jews on blogs, message boards, and social media. The “echoes,” as they are called, allude to the alleged sins committed by Jews that reverberate through history, according to Mic, a news site geared toward millennials that first explained the origins of the symbol.

Then, Yair Rosenberg of Tablet Magazine, another popular troll target, encouraged his followers to put parentheses around their names as a way to “raise awareness about anti-Semitism, show solidarity with harassed Jews and mess with the Twitter Nazis.” Several journalists and other Jewish professionals followed suit.

Jonathan Weisman, a New York Times editor who changed his username to (((Jon Weisman))) over the weekend, wrote on Twitter that the campaign was a way to show “strength and fearlessness” in the face of bigotry. Weisman was the victim of a barrage of anti-Semitic abuse last month after he tweeted the link to an article in the Washington Post that was critical of Donald Trump. Weisman retweeted much of the filth — including memes of hook-nosed Jews and depictions of Trump in Nazi regalia — that came his way. “Better to have it in the open,” he wrote. “People need to choose sides.”

In Israel, where Twitter is less popular than other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, a small number of journalists, including Haaretz’s Barak Ravid, joined the cause.

Many non-Jews also added the parentheses to their usernames out of solidarity. Among them was NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who tweeted on Saturday: “Founded by Jews & Blacks, the haters might as well hate mark our name [too]: (((@NAACP))).”

Yet the move has struck some Jews as unseemly, the virtual equivalent of willingly pinning a yellow “Jude” star to one’s shirt. On Sunday, the journalist Julia Ioffe tweeted that she was “really uncomfortable with people putting their own names in anti-Semitic parentheses.”

Mordechai Lightstone, a rabbi in Brooklyn who works in the Jewish social media world, said it was dangerous “if we only subvert these hateful acts and use that as the sole basis to define our identities.” A better solution, he said, would be to “channel this into positive actions expressing Jewish pride.”

AntiSemitismWatch believes any tactic people feel empowers them in fighting anti-Semitism has merit. As such, we support those who have determined it is appropriate for them. Indeed, there is something to be said for stealing the tools of anti-Semites, if nothing else other than to annoy and frustrate them! However, the fight does require more. It requires exposure of these people and groups, holding authorities and governments to account, recognition of the global nature of the problem and people dedicated to ensuring the lessons of history are not forgotten or ignored.

But do let us know what you think by using our comment section below or by emailing us at secretary@antisemitismwatch.com

Read more here.

Do we really believe new EU initiative will clean up anti-Semitic and other hate speech from social media?

The European Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have today unveiled a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.media

The code is seen as part of the response to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally.

While the effective application of provisions criminalising hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, the Commission and IT companies recognised such work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring illegal hate speech online is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame. However, they did argue that to be considered valid in this respect, a notification should not be insufficiently precise or inadequately substantiated.

Twitter’s Head of Public Policy for Europe, Karen White, commented: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society. We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow. However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”

Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Director, Lie Junius, said: “We’re committed to giving people access to information through our services, but we have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms. We have efficient systems to review valid notifications in less than 24 hours and to remove illegal content.”

Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook said: “We welcome today’s announcement and the chance to continue our work with the Commission and wider tech industry to fight hate speech. With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment. As we make clear in our Community Standards, there’s no place for hate speech on Facebook. We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate. Our teams around the world review these reports around the clock and take swift action.”

The code of conduct includes the following public commitments:

  • The IT Companies to have in place clear and effective processes to review notifications regarding illegal hate speech on their services so they can remove or disable access to such content.
  • Upon receipt of a valid removal notification, the IT Companies to review such requests against their rules and community guidelines and where necessary national laws.
  • The IT Companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.
  • The IT Companies to educate and raise awareness with their users about the types of content not permitted under their rules and community guidelines.
  • The IT Companies to encourage the provision of notices and flagging of content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct at scale by experts.
  • The IT Companies to provide regular training to their staff on current societal developments and to exchange views on the potential for further improvement.
  • The IT Companies to intensify cooperation between themselves and other platforms and social media companies to enhance best practice sharing.
  • The IT Companies and the European Commission, recognising the value of independent counter speech against hateful rhetoric and prejudice, aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.

However, considering the sheer scale of anti-Semitic and other hate speech that floods social media platforms and the suspect nature of the IT companies response to it, we believe many in the community will wait to see the results of this initiative in action before endorsing it.

 

Jewish actress, “I do not see beauty as an advantage against anti-Semitism”

Popular French-Israeli actress Julia Levy-Boeken said that people would be shocked at the anti-Semitic comments people say in front of her, assuming she is not Jewish.

Julia Levy-Boeken (photo from Twitter)
Julia Levy-Boeken (photo from Twitter)

In an interview with French magazine Paris Match, Levy-Boeken, who was born in France, was asked by the interviewer whether her beauty protected her from anti-Semitism? The actress responded strongly suggesting, “
I do not see beauty as an advantage against anti-Semitism.”

However, Levy-Boeken did explain, “It is precisely because of my blond hair and fair skin that many people think I’m not Jewish, and I often hear comments that they wouldn’t dare say if they knew, like, ‘They [Jews] are everywhere’ or, ‘We are no longer the majority here.’ This has shocked me more than anything.”

Levy-Boeken is best known for her roles in the movie “World War Z,” the HBO hit series “Entourage” and the Israeli hit drama Ha-Alufa, where she played an American spy working for the Mossad.

The French-Israeli actress plays a small part in the upcoming controversial comedic movie “They Are Everywhere,” which critically examines anti-Semitism in France. Directed by French-Israeli director Yvan Attal, the film centres on a Jewish man (played by Attal himself) who attends therapy sessions to talk about how he was persecuted by growing anti-Semitism in France. His sessions are punctuated by a series of tragi-comic short stories showcasing the most tenacious anti-Semitic stereotypes.