Category Archives: ASW investigation

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.

 

Special Report: Rise of far right in Europe being overlooked

Western mainstream media had been fully geared up to cover the expected victory of the far right presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, in the recent Austrian election. The win of the Green party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, robbed them of the opportunity to cover what they had been predicting as the first European post-Second World War far right head of state election victory.

Norbert Hofer
Norbert Hofer

Yet, the rise of far right European parties and candidates into the established international realpolitik, rather than their traditional fringe position, is something that has been and is being fundamentally overlooked.

In France, the far-right National Front won 6.8 million votes in regional elections in 2015 – its largest ever popular endorsement.

The far-right Jobbik party who polled third in Hungaryorganises patrols by an unarmed but uniformed “Hungarian Guard” in Roma (Gypsy) neighbourhoods.

In Denmark, the government relies on the support of the nationalist Danish People’s Party and has the toughest immigration rules in Europe.

While, the leader of the nationalist Finns Party is the foreign minister of Finland, after it joined a coalition government last year.

Andrzej Duda
Andrzej Duda

Less than a year after Poland elected Andrzej Duda, a previously little-known right-wing politician as president, Warsaw’s nationalist government moved to strip a leading Jewish Holocaust scholar of a national honour for asserting simply what the previous Polish presidential incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, acknowledged. Namely, that Poland was in part responsible for Nazi war crimes against its Jewish population during World War II.

Perhaps one of most shocking situations currently exists in Croatia. During World War II, Croatia was ruled by the Ustashi, an axis-aligned regime that was every bit as bad as the Nazis. The Ustashi killed over 600,000 people, 500,000 of which were Serbs. The Ustashi-ruled Independent State of Croatia had a population of around 6.3 million, meaning the Ustashi killed around one in 10 of its own people. Eighty percent of the nation’s Jews were murdered.

Ustashi
Ustashi – axis-aligned regime during World War II, every bit as bad as the Nazis.

Now the Ustashi are making a comeback. It has now penetrated cabinet ministers and the mainstream media. Ognjen Kraus, the leader of Croatia’s Jewish communities, said that the government “is simply not doing anything” and that it “does not want to.”

The nation’s new right-wing coalition that came to power at the start of the year is responsible for much of this change. As part of that coalition, Zlatko Hasanbegović became Croatia’s culture minister in January. He was once a member of a small far-right, pro-Ustashi party.

Ustashi supporters in modern Croatia
Ustashi supporters in modern Croatia

Since taking office, Hasanbegović has cut funds for progressive groups and independent media and has endorsed a revisionist documentary film that denies the scale of the crimes committed by Croatia during its alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1940s.

Reporters Without Borders, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Serb and Jewish groups in the region have all condemned the new government.

The government’s tolerance of such a man as a minister in government is creating a climate of fear throughout the country.

Croatian soccer fans frequently chant Nazi-era slogans during games with only indirect criticism from the government. During one game with Israel, fans were heard to shout, “We Croats! Ustashi! Ustashi!”

Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Israel and Eastern Europe, warned that Croatia is “a country where manifestations of fascism and anti-Semitism are very common, especially in the local soccer stadiums, but not easily identifiable by those ignorant of the country’s World War II and Holocaust history.”

In the UK much of the media coverage of anti-Semitic issues has focused attention to the political left following the storm that has engulfed the Labour Party. Equally, many in the western media, following mass immigration stories and terrorist outrages, have, unsurprisingly, concentrated on radical Islamist matters and any associated anti-Semitism. Yet, if world history, our history, tells us one thing, we cannot afford to ignore or overlook the rise of the far right. If the mainstream media will not do it we shall have to do it for ourselves.

Word of caution to Stamford Hill community – Learn from the Lakewood experience

With members of the London Stamford Hill Charedi community being priced out of the area, some are now trying to snap up houses on Canvey Island, Essex.

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The site of the former Castle View School on the Island will be transformed into a private Jewish school, Essex County Council has confirmed.

The Charedi community, is understood to have paid £1.75million for the former school building, which closed five years ago, and its attached playing fields.

Residents living around the site have started to experience members of the community knocking on their doors offering to pay above the market price for their houses, despite them not being up for sale.

AntiSemitismWatch has already taken the step of sending messages into the Stamford Hill community in an attempt that the experiences of the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, USA are considered in how the Canvey Island experiment is proceeded with.

2016-05-13-09-36-17--1070305669Toms River, a neighbouring community to Lakewood, took the step of implementing a law aimed at putting an end to what many of its residents and leaders labeled overly aggressive tactics by realtors.

Some observers suggested the measure was part of a campaign to block an increasing migration by members of the Lakewood community.

The other Toms River 'welcome' sign
The other Toms River ‘welcome’ sign

Tensions also simmered over comments made by Toms River Mayor, Thomas Kelaher. In an interview with Bloomberg News Service regarding the recent influx and his town’s reaction to it, Kelaher was quoted as saying, “It’s like an invasion. It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community — ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t [sell it to me].”

In the wake of its publication, Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller penned an open letter expressing deep offense over the use of the term “invasion,” which he said implied a takeover by a malicious group, and demanded an apology.

The intervention of AntiSemitismWatch comes after Joel Friedman, who works for the Interlink Foundation, a charity representing the community, confirmed half-a-dozen families have already bought houses on the Essex island.

One islander living near the proposed school site, who did not want to be named, told The Echo her family received a visit on Sunday afternoon from a groups of people interested in buying their home.

She said: “I was quite surprised really as they just started asking about house prices in the area, and whether we would be willing to sell ours.

“They were very polite, but it was just a bit random really. I’ve seen them knock on quite a few houses in our area over the past couple of weeks.

“I don’t think we’re ready to sell just yet, but I think it’s interesting they are so keen to move here.”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said he is pleased the former Castle View site is becoming a school instead of housing.

He said: “From what I am hearing quite a few houses have already been bought and they are looking to create a large community here.

“I think it’s a good thing and particularly as the rest of that school site will actually get used and it won’t become housing as set out in the local plan.

“I have to say, I am not sure why Canvey has been chosen, as it’s not the easiest place to reach.”

The former Castle View site had originally been earmarked for 50 new homes, but developers pulled out of the school due to flood concerns.

The situation in Toms River has led representatives of the Chabad Jewish Center to file a law suit in federal court against Toms River and its Zoning Board of Adjustment. The legal move came after a refusal to allow small weekly prayer services in Rabbi Moshe Gourarie’s Toms River home.

The refusal was alleged to be a civil rights violation spurred by, “A rising tide of anti-Semitism among the Toms River government and population, fearful that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community located in adjacent Lakewood Township will extend into Toms River,” the complaint suggested.

Thomas-KelaherIt also cited the statement by Mayor Kelaher and an antiSemitic act whereby the words “Burn the Jews” were carved into playground equipment at the nearby Riverwood Park.

The complaint further cited a number of statements made in various places on social media “regarding the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jews describing them as “cockroaches,” “trash,” a “cult,” “he-brews and she-brews,” a “Jewish conspiracy,” “disgusting phonies,” a “joo school,” “damn jews,” “dirty,” and a “disease.”

AntiSemitismWatch comment:

“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”

 

United Nations again plays host to anti-Semitic rhetoric

Considering the concern over soaring anti-Semitism in Europe and further afield, you would perhaps imagine that the United Nations would be doing all it could to reassure world Jewry of its decisive and committed action to help stamp out this evil.

2016-05-09-08-52-47--1485909343Unfortunately, as AntiSemitismWatch has frequently reported,  the United Nations has shown itself an unprincipled conspirator in aiding and abetting the perpetration of anti-Semitic lies and falsehoods by freely playing host to those who engage in such behaviour.

In the latest vile example, Israel was accused on Friday in the United Nations of preparing a ‘final solution’ for Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.’

“What is Israel planning to do with the Palestinians?” asked Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez. “Do the Israelis want the Palestinians to disappear? Is Israel preparing a ‘final solution’ for the Palestinians similar to that which was perpetrated against them?”

Shockingly, Venezuela presently holds one of the hugely significant ten rotating seats on the UN Security Council.

The comparison, drawing a link between Israel and Nazi Germany, drew immediate outrage from Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon.

“This statement by the Venezuelan ambassador is straightforward anti-Semitism against the Jewish state,” said Danon, according to a statement by the Israeli mission to the UN. “His remarks are a direct continuation to the Palestinian representative’s statement a few days ago comparing Israel to the Nazis,” Danon said, adding the remarks were “unequivocally condemned” by the U.S., the UK and France.

In what has become the trademark reaction to those exposed for perpetrating anti-Semitic rhetoric, Ramirez subsequently apologized to the “Jewish People if they were offended by the remarks,” according to the statement.

“The Palestinians are bringing anti-Semitism into the halls of the UN and are legitimizing racists and crass language in the parliament of nations,” Danon noted.

Last month Palestinian Authority representative to the UN Riyad Mansour drew a parallel between the Jewish resistance fighters during the Holocaust and the Arab attackers in the current wave of terror.

imagesAntiSemitismWatch will continue to expose the dreadful reality that is the United Nations, campaigning to ensure that it returns to the core principles of its establishment in the aftermath of World War II. We shall also further hold to account those countries like the US, France and the UK, who should be leading the urgent necessary reform of the UN in order to deliver that change.

Our offer to Labour and Corbyn – A five point plan to tackle their anti-Semitism crisis

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AntiSemitismWatch is perhaps uniquely placed to offer the UK Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn a considered solution to the anti-Semitic crisis currently engulfing them.

We were the first to identify the clear source of the problem in our article entitled, ‘The inconvenient truth for the left and why Labour is in such a mess‘.

In the simplest terms, the political left-wing forms the ‘natural home’ of the ideology that views with hatred everything associated with and related to Israel. In essence, it is anti-Zionist sentiment that is driving the current wave, insurgency if you will, of anti-Semitism.

corbynThese views that have come so much to the fore within Labour were sparked by left-winger Corbyn’s party leadership victory, which brought with it an influx of new members with these ‘out-dated and prejudiced’ views.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is the living embodiment of this problem. There is now overwhelming evidence that BDS is home to vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy. BDS, and its acolytes such as Israeli Apartheid Week, drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.

The article prophetically concluded that BDS movement is systemically anti-Semitic and that the political left was in danger of becoming similarly so, and so was the Labour Party!

AntiSemitismWatch just the evening before the Ken Livingstone furor erupted also predicted troubled times ahead for the relationship between the former London Mayor and Corbyn.

Corbyn’s response to the overall issue has been three-fold:

The first point has, indeed, seen some action follow with various party members, officials and MPs, including Livingstone and Naz Shah, suspended. However, it is this very same evidence that leads AntiSemitismWatch to conclude that this response is doomed to failure.

With each new accusation there have been issues of indecision, prevarication or lack of leadership shown.

  • Gerry Downing, accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ and being ‘obsessed with Jews’, kicked out, readmitted on appeal and then kicked out again.
  • Vicki Kirby, probed by the party in 2014 after a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist God” and Jews had “big noses”, subsequently reinstated with a warning, appointed vice-chairman of Labour’s Woking branch, and then suspended again.
  • Naz Shah, who following the Facebook revelations was not suspended for 32 hours until Corbyn succumbed to the pressure exerted by the media, the Prime Minister, Jewish commentators and some within his own party.
  • The Oxford University Labour Club mess which triggered the recent crisis has still not been resolved despite the launch of an inquiry into the matter.
  • Even the suspension of Ken Livingstone was weakly handled by Corbyn. Virtually all party communication on the subject was dealt with by Labour ‘spokespeople’. We also had the spectacle of John Mann being seen be many as the hero of the hour in his facing down and castigation of Livingstone. While not perhaps expecting precisely the same from the leader of the official government opposition something of the spirit displayed by Mann has been entirely lacking in Corbyn.
John Mann
John Mann MP

There are other Labour members in addition to John Mann worthy of mention for their mettle shown in fighting anti-Semitism in the party, including Wes Streeting and Luciana Berger who has herself been subjected to vicious anti-Semitic abuse.

Yet, these example are not set to be the sum total of what Labour will have to contend with. It is inevitable that the injurious damage will continue through further revelations. As such, they will persist in making mockery of the claim of a party with zero tolerance against anti-Semitism.

That brings us to the announcement of an independent inquiry to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the rights group Liberty, who will be tasked with opening a dialogue with the Jewish community and will report back to Labour headquarters within two months on how the party can best tackle antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.

It is entirely inconceivable that this inquiry will deliver the necessary radical and truthful thinking and proposed action to deliver the step-change necessary for the Labour Party to emerge from this crisis with a realistic prospect of regaining its credibility.

Instead, it will likely focus on tightening party processes for dealing with potential  transgressors of Labour rules on racism and anti-Semitism etc. It will also undoubtedly conclude that there exists a real desire within the party leadership to tackle the issues but, AntiSemitismWatch predicts, it will entirely fail to offer up the necessary action plan to tackle the causes.

So AntiSemitismWatch offers up to Corbyn, Labour and Chakrabarti our own radical five point plan:

  1. As with any plan for recovery, first admit there is a problem. Labour’s Chuka Umunna has alluded to it, but still shied away from admitting the full extent, when he said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that.”
  2. The message must come from Corbyn himself. No longer is it viable or acceptable for him to stand behind others speaking on his behalf.
  3. The admission must acknowledge that, like all parts of the political spectrum, Labour will contain individuals who hold plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitic attitudes. Labour is not immune to this just because of their long association with human rights but neither is it unique to them.
  4. The more radical aspect to the admission is to accept that while criticism of any foreign state, including Israel, is legitimate, the rhetoric on this one lone country has, all too often, been used as a disguise for attacking the Jewish people more widely.
  5. The issue of anti-Zionism would also need to be addressed as part of the admission, acknowledging that the right of self-determination is an unalienable right. That anything that calls for the destruction, removal, transportation or dismantlement of a democratic state and its people is in itself anti-Semitic. This provides for Corbyn and Labour to reassert a commitment to achieving a peaceful two-state solution.

Only such explicit clarity offered by our five point plan will take Labour towards a path out of the mire. It provides the only clarity necessary for Labour to then be able to hold true on its zero tolerance pledge.

Danny Cohen, the former head of the BBC, recently suggested of Labour, ‘If you are Jewish how can you vote for them?“. The relationship between Corbyn’s party and the Jewish community hangs by a thread. There remains limited time and opportunity for repair, our five point plan is an offer that should not be rejected.

Labour - opportunity hanging by a thread
Labour – opportunity hanging by a thread

 

 

 

Are Corbyn and Livingstone set to fall out over “anti-Semitism”?

Amid the anti-Semitic storm presently engulfing the Labour Party at least its leader Jeremy Corbyn has always had his ideological twin, Ken Livingstone, on hand to rely on for support.

images-6The pair go back a long way and Corbyn’s leadership election victory effectively revived Livingstone’s political career, bringing him in from the Labour cold.

However, in the aftermath of today’s suspension of Naz Shah dramatic differences of opinion have emerged from the Corbyn and Livingstone camps.images-8

Corbyn must be reeling from the pressure he faced following his clearly mistaken initial decision to accept Shah’s apologies without imposing a punishment. He had to backtrack on that later in the day by suspending her.

Corbyn, however, could not escape the key question of whether he considered the comments made by Shah to be anti-Semitic? He did, but did not think the MP was herself anti-Semitic. The only issue he did escape was saying it himself, choosing to instead to communicate through a spokesperson.

Mr Livingstone meanwhile said Shah’s remarks were ‘over the top’ and ‘offensive’ but that it had been a mistake to suspend her.

‘What we have at the moment is a lot of people making a big issue about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. In 47 years I have never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.

‘We expelled a couple of people from the Labour Party early on for saying things that could clearly be interpreted as anti-Semitic.

‘This is not that; this is an over-the-top comment about the horrendous conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’

 Livingstone’s Labour colleague John Woodcock posted on Twitter: ‘Listening to Ken Livingstone…… who won’t go further than saying Naz Shah’s comments were ‘over the top’. Hard to believe.’

What is really hard to believe is the emergence of division between the two comrades, Corbyn and Livingstone. How this will play out is going to be interesting?

UPDATE: Labour’s Naz Shah suspended following revelation – full coverage

UPDATE: Following yesterday’s comprehensive coverage of the fallout over Labour’s Naz Shah and her Facebook posts, the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has finally bowed to pressure and suspended her from the party.

Yet the decision came just hours after he appeared to have accepted an apology without imposing a punishment.

Ms Shah had a second meeting with Mr Corbyn this afternoon after which Labour said she would be suspended with ‘mutual agreement’.

A Labour spokesman said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the General Secretary.

‘Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed.’

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Shah today made her fourth apology saying: ‘I fully acknowledge I have made mistakes and I wholeheartedly apologise to this House for the words I used before I became a member.

‘I accept and understand the words I used caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community and I deeply regret that.

‘Anti-Semitism is racism, full stop.’

ORIGINAL POST: Labour MP for Bradford West, Naz Shah, today resigned from the shadow cabinet over her now well publicised Facebook post that called for relocation of Israel to the US to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Naz Shah (centre)
Naz Shah (centre)

Shah stepped down as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, over the remarks she made two years ago.

Shah has since apologised, saying: “I deeply regret the hurt I have caused.

“This post from two years ago was made before I was an MP, does not reflect my views and I apologise for any offence it has caused.”

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In a second statement, she added: “I made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict.

“But that is no excuse for the offence I have given, for which I unreservedly apologise.”

Shah won her parliamentary seat in 2015 from George Galloway following an acrimonious election campaign that at times became very personal. Indeed, Shah referred to it as, “One of the most vile and personalised election campaigns ever seen in Great Britain”.

One particular spat centred on Shah’s claims about being forced into a violent and sexually abusive marriage aged 15.

This was disputed by Galloway telling her she had “only a passing acquaintance with the truth”. Galloway said: “You claimed – and gullible journalists believed you – that you were subject to a forced marriage at the age of 15. But you were not 15, you were 16 and a half. I have your nikah [marriage certificate] in my pocket.”

Shah at one point suggested she would sue Galloway over the issue.

However, it has been the series of messages on social media for which she has paid today’s price. She had said that the “solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the additional comment “problem solved”.

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Alongside the post, Shah added a smiley-face emoji and suggested she would lobby the prime minister to adopt the plan.

More recently Shah threw her opinion into the ring over the controversial election of Malia Bouattia as the new president of the National Union of Students. Shah shared a tweet warmly congratulating Bouattia on her victory.

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Bouattia’s election, amid allegations by some of anti-Semitism, has taken some university student unions to the brink of disafilliation.

The Labour party confirmed that Shah had stepped down as Parliamentary Private Secretary, an unpaid backbench assistant.

The original post was publicised by the Guido Fawkes political website.

Naz Shah conclude her apology with a suggestion she would be,”Seeking to expand my existing engagement and dialogue with Jewish community organisations, and will be stepping up my efforts to combat all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.”

However, her troubles are almost certain to continue with other MPs questioning whether Shah should continue as a parliamentarian.

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Her Labour colleague John Mann told Guido Fawkes that, “The last person to propose a forced repatriation of this kind was Adolf Eichmann on August 15 in 1940 (the Madagascar plan).”

Shah, is also a member of the House of Commons home affairs select committee which is conducting an inquiry into the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK. In the circumstances it is inconceivable that she will be able to continue in that role.

Visibility must be a price worth paying as anti-Semitism continues to thrive in Europe

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When AntiSemitismWatch launched its groundbreaking survey on the experience of ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in the UK last year, it had a working premise. Namely, that their visibility would mean they were likely to have a markedly different experience in regards to anti-Semitism than the wider mainstream Jewish communities.

The results significantly bore out that theory, casting a huge shadow over the reliability of the published UK anti-Semitic hate crime figures.

Of all the respondents, 77% had witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the previous 12 months.

Of those, 49% had witnessed or experienced 3 or more anti-Semitic incidents (8% had witnessed or experienced 10 or more Anti-Semitic incidents in the previous 12 months).

images-3However, it would be wrong to leave the impression that vulnerability of visibility is an exclusive preserve of the ultra-Orthodox or the UK.

Just recently a Jewish student was denied a seat on a train in Berlin due to her Magen-David necklace.

Two women saw her, noticed her necklace, then put their bags on the empty seats next to them, to prevent her from sitting down.  They reaffirmed their actions through words of hate towards her.

Disgracefully, the other passengers studiously ignored what was going on and looked at the floor or window.

images-2The victim said she experiences such negative experiences whenever her Magen-David is visible, therefore,  usually choosing to hide it with a scarf.

On Wednesday we reported that Guy Muller of the Netherlands Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) explained the hazards of appearing externally Jewish in public: “If you walk around and are identifiable as a Jew, there is a higher chance that you will be attacked. We know that there are people who are attacked more than once each year.”

Famously, Zvi Ammar, the head of Marseille’s Israelite Consistory urged men to stop wearing their kippah after yet a further violent anti-Semitic attack on a Jew.

Mr Ammar called on Jews “not to wear the kippah in the street to avoid being identified as Jewish”.

“It is sad to find ourselves in this position in 2016, in a great democratic country like France,” he said.

images“But faced with an exceptional situation, we have to take exceptional measures. It causes me such pain to come to this conclusion but I do not want anyone to die in Marseille because they had a kippah on their head.”

This led to remarkable scenes of French politicians, so usually ardent in their advocacy of secularism, wearing kippot into the national parliament.

None of these are truly a surprise against the backdrop of the rocketing rates of European anti-Semitism.

Just to say it was revealed that 35% of Hungarians hold “high or moderate” anti-Semitic views.

The survey, which questioned 1,200 Hungarian citizens on their views toward Jews, was initiated by the Action and Protection Foundation, a Hungarian organization combating anti-Semitism in the country.

Twenty-three percent of respondents claimed to hold “extreme” anti-Semitic views towards Jews, while 12% claimed to hold “moderate” anti-Semitic views towards Jews. Shockingly, 31% said they do not wish to have Jewish neighbors.

Even in neighboring Poland there is a high level of anti-Semitism. A survey conducted by the National Institute for Public Opinion Research found that 37% of respondents said they “do not like Jews”.

Yet, despite all of this, does AntiSemitismWatch suggest hiding away our precious signs of our Judaism? Of course not!

Do not hide. Take sensible precautions, in the same way any community or individual should, and rally, campaign and argue the point, but never hide. When they have forced us into hiding, that is a victory, the first broken window.

It will only encourage more of the same actions. Instead, find wherever the hate is being preached and stand against it.

Stand strong our friends!

Where now for Jewish students? Only two choices

FB_IMG_1460708949004The election today of the controversial Malia Bouattia as the new president of the National Union of Students (NUS) effectively means that Jewish student societies (JSocs) up and down the country have only two options moving forward:

  • Remain as part of the NUS and try to work from within to reform

Or

  • Leave and start afresh either alone or as part of new coalition of more inclusive student groups.

However, one of the NUS debates at their national annual today perhaps best contextualizes the type of organisation the NUS has become when considering the first option.

Widespread outrage was caused after students applauded motions for the NUS not to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, because doing so isn’t ‘inclusive’.

Darta Kaleja, from Chester University, shocked many by speaking against the amendment.

She told the conference, “I am against the NUS ignoring and forgetting other mass genocides and prioritising others.

“It suggests some lives are more important than others.

“When during my education was I taught about the genocides in Tibet or Rwanda?

“It is important to commemorate all of them.”

Sir Eric Pickles MP was one of many to voice hi sconcern over the direction taken by the NUS today
Sir Eric Pickles MP was one of many to voice his concern over the direction taken by the NUS today

Another student spoke against the motion saying, “Of course there shouldn’t be anti-Semitism but it’s not about one set of people.”

Additionally, in February 2016, the NUS National Executive Council showed its true colours by removing the right for Jewish students to have guaranteed representation in the Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) campaign. The decision left Jewish students as the only group without representation on any of the NUS liberation campaigns.

This is the same National Union of Students that while refusing in June 2015 to condemn the brutal Islamic State terrorists citing claims of ‘Islamophobia’ and that it would represent a “justification for war”,  added its name to the systemically anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – demanding sanctions against the State of Israel.

This was despite being warned time and again by Jewish students that the BDS movement can and has provoked anti-Semitism on campuses. The motion to boycott also effectively told Israeli students that they were not welcome on campus, simply because of their nationality, creating a poisonous and divisive atmosphere.

So the only viable option left available to Jewish students is to go it alone. Indeed, there is already established precedence for it with four universities in Scotland opting not affiliate with the NHS,  including St Andrews, Dundee and Glasgow.

Interestingly, there are clear signs that others may be willing to follow. A campaign calling for Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) to disaffiliate from the NUS launched today after Bouattia’s election.

The campaign intends to present a motion to CUSU Council calling for a referendum on whether or not CUSU should remain affiliated to the NUS and says that disaffiliation will be debated at the Cambridge Union tomorrow evening. There is also an indication that Oxford University’s student body is considering a similar move.

In a statement, the leader of the Cambridge campaign, Jack May, said: “The election of Malia as NUS President is a horrifying message to Jewish students in the UK. Attention has been repeatedly drawn to her anti-Semitic comments. Unfortunately, Malia’s election is just the latest event in a tide of anti-Semitism sweeping UK universities.”

“Cambridge students should be given a chance to decide whether or not to remain part of the increasingly toxic culture and management of the NUS. Our students’ union should represent what we want, and not act as a mouthpiece for the extreme views of anti-Semitic individuals.”

Another supporter of the campaign for disaffiliation, Adam Crafton, who is Jewish, said: “This is a deeply disappointing day for Jewish students at Cambridge… The failure of the national body means that the responsibility now falls upon our own Cambridge representatives.

“We call upon CUSU Council to recognise this shift in the political landscape and sense the need to offer students the freedom to choose who should represent their interests. As such, we implore CUSU Council to pass this motion, engage in a democratic process and ensure the freedom and security of Jewish students.”

Wes Streeting MP expressing what many now feel about the NUS
Wes Streeting MP expressing what many now feel about the NUS

Further afield, there has also been a petition launched on the Parliament petition website with the motion: “Remove Malia Bouattia as NUS President.” It is currently awaiting moderation, having received initial support.