Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering To Our Movement

From Jews for Racial and Economic Justice: https://jfrej.org/understanding-antisemitism-an-offering-to-our-movement/

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is proud to announce the publication of a new resource, Understanding Antisemitism, (click to open, control-click to download) for our community and our movement partners.

Since even before the election, it has been clear to us that many on the left (including Jews ourselves) don’t always have a clear analysis of what antisemitism is, how it works, and why it matters. In recent decades, the political Jewish right and its Christian allies (particularly Christian Zionists) have consistently spoken loudly against what they describe as antisemitism. In reaction to the manipulations of the right, many on the left have hesitated to address antisemitism at all.

And yet, today we have antisemites in the White House and neo-Nazis marching through Charlottesville, advancing a right-wing, white nationalist agenda. As we say in Understanding Antisemitism, “Antisemitism is real. It is antithetical to collective liberation, and it hurts Jews but not only Jews — it undermines, weakens and derails all of our movements for social justice and collective liberation.”

It is long past time for the left as a whole to sharpen its understanding of anti-Jewish ideology, and for Jews to engage more deeply in the collective fight against white supremacy. This paper is designed to help us develop that understanding and strengthen those commitments to one another.

Download and read Understanding Antisemitism, share it with your friends and colleagues, and don’t forget to join us for a follow-up online webinar on Monday, November 20th at 1pm featuring authors Dove Kent and Leo Ferguson, JFREJ Executive Director Audrey Sasson and social justice leaders Rama Issa-Ibrahim and Lisa Anderson.

Changing the conversation about antisemitism requires listening to new voices, which is why this resource was authored by a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, intergenerational team including Black, Mizrahi and white Ashkenazi Jews, with editorial review and support by Jews with ethnic and national identities from many countries including Puerto Rico, India, Iraq, Syria, as well as non-Jewish allies from many racial and ethnic backgrounds.

We are excited to be able to offer new perspectives and analysis to our many communities as we all navigate the shifting, treacherous terrain of white supremacy, nationalism and state violence. We make this offering with humility. It is only one piece of a larger conversation, and one step in the transformation of our movements. But if we re-examine our histories, learn from each other, and ask hard questions while refusing to be pitted against each other, we may discover that the path to freedom, resilience, and shared safety is far wider, kinder, stronger and clearer than we might have imagined.

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Lean left: is America ready for a wave of Bernie Sanders-inspired socialists?

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/26/america-midterms-democrats-socialism-bernie-sanders

A slew of left wing Democrats are running in the midterms – but some believe it’s too soon for a full-scale embrace of progressive ideas

in New York
Fri 26 Oct 2018

In the midst of these bitterly contested, hyper-partisan midterm elections, one of the most interesting subplots is how the left-leaning, Bernie Sanders-inspired Democrats will fare – and what that could mean for the future of US politics.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional victory in New York in June was a high-water mark for the left. Backed by Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America, Ocasio-Cortez crushed the Democratic insider Joe Crowley in what some heralded as a socialist dawn.

But since then some of the other Democratic candidates running on progressive platforms have faltered, falling to more traditional centrists. Which raises the question: is the US ready for a wave of democratic socialism?

The GOP is betting that it isn’t. Republicans are attempting to tie the Democratic party as a whole to progressives like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. They believe swing voters can be intimidated by talk of socialism – a move most recently demonstrated on Tuesday when the White House published a 72-page dossier warning of “the opportunity costs of socialism”.

Scaremongering and misrepresentation aside – the document links Sanders and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren to Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong – the publication at the very least shows the level that leftwing ideas have permeated American discourse since the 2016 election.

And despite Sanders’ ultimate failure to win the nomination, and the mixed fortunes of democratic socialists since, organizers on the left insist they are at the start of something big – even if that something takes time to materialize.

“One parallel could be when Barry Goldwater lost in 1964,” said Waleed Shahid, a director at Justice Democrats, a progressive organization that works to elect candidates like Ocasio-Cortez. Goldwater, a Republican, won just six states in the 1964 presidential election but his opposition to government intervention – including opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act – arguably laid groundwork for the future of the GOP.

Shahid said: “There was a whole generation of conservative activists, organizers, intellectuals who felt emboldened to kind of plant the seeds of a movement, and that movement ultimately 16 years later led to Ronald Reagan.

“And I feel like when Bernie Sanders loss in 2016 is similar to that where I think that just ushered in a whole new generation of candidates, organizers, intellectuals who feel emboldened now.”

Shahid said Ocasio-Cortez plus candidates like Andrew Gillum, running for governor of Florida, and Ben Jealous, running for governor of Maryland, have been able to run for national office because of Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/26/america-midterms-democrats-socialism-bernie-sanders

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Internet Trolls, Online Cesspools, and Their Real-World Effects

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/247110/internet-alt-right-fascists

Digital fascism: anti-PC idol-smashing isn’t just a joke

By Jacob Siegel and Angela Nagle
October 18, 2017

After Charlottesville, the mask of irony that wrong-footed so many commentators was ripped from the U.S. alt-right. And more recently, an email leak reported by Buzzfeed has stripped the irony defense from Breitbart’s former star provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, who, leaked internal records show, was the celebrity nexus connecting Nazi-saluting race warriors, powerful Republican funders, and members of the liberal media and entertainment class who fed him tips and dirt. The transformation of internet platforms into havens for the far right is crucial to understanding our current political crisis and what may lie ahead.

It’s easy to forget—especially when the most famous Twitter troll in the world is the president of the United States—but only a few years ago, social media and unregulated online spaces were heralded by many political progressives as Utopian forces ushering humanity to a new age of equality and democratization. By 2011, Silicon Valley boosters were agreed that the digital revolution had finally arrived. That was the early, hopeful moment when Twitter was supposedly driving the Arab Spring, and the hackers of Anonymous—the main political product of 4chan before the alt-right—became symbols of the Occupy movement.

At the same time, however, uglier emanations from digital society were being hidden by euphemisms like “trolling.” Trolls were often seen as sinister, yes, but also as an exciting new counterculture from the internet’s underground. Just as Silicon Valley rhetoric about an optimized, low-cost future concealed the consolidation of unprecedented levels of money and influence by the tech oligopoly, so, on a cultural level, the idea of “trolling” gave a romantic cover to antisocial exercises of power and resentment. As bombastic parody became the lingua franca of the internet and the line between irony and sincerity blurred, people lost their footing, which made them easier to manipulate. Debate on the internet vacillated between the claim that everything is ironic or that nothing is, and the political corollary: that everyone is Hitler or no one is, possibly not even Hitler.

Practically, this meant that people warning about a growing far-right coalescing around the ritualized cruelty on troll forums like 4chan were dismissed as priggish normies, clueless about the creative complexities of online subcultures. At the same time, with so many ideas around race, gender, and democracy, being declared off limits to debate, and with so many people calling their political enemies Nazis, those of us writing about actual Nazis (and their sympathizers) were often lost in the noise.

To understand how we got here and why so many people were bamboozled by the alt-right’s playful insincerity we have to revisit an earlier period when the groundwork was laid in conceptual failures around 4chan, trolling and ‘lulz’. A decade ago, The New York Times ran a prescient story by Mattathias Schwartz called “The Trolls Among Us.” The article follows a group of hackers and internet mischief makers who fill their days defacing memorials for suicide victims, posting flashing images to epilepsy websites and theorizing about their role as an elite, transgressive vanguard. Trolling, Schwartz wrote in 2008, “has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.” The story depicts one Andrew Aurenheimer, better known by his hacker sobriquet Weev, who, even then, “displayed a misanthropy far harsher” than the article’s other subjects:

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/247110/internet-alt-right-fascists

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Mayim Bialik: My Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Shooting

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Right wing terror stalks America. Will Trump do anything to stop it?

Wait, wait, I know the answer to that question.  The answer is, No he benefits from that right wing terrorists, they make up a substantial part of his strongest supporters.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/29/rightwing-terror-stalks-america-pittsburgh

The sad undeniable truth is that the US faces a grave challenge from homegrown terrorism that has nothing to do with Isis or al-Qaida


Mon 29 Oct 2018

Four of the Saturday worshippers brutally murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue had been old enough during the Holocaust and the second world war to revere America as a safe haven in a world of hate. The other seven victims, the youngest of whom was 54, had grown up in a land where most blatant antisemitism had seemingly retreated to the shadows.

When pipe bombs were mailed to a dozen targets of Donald Trump’s wrath, the only frail consolation had been that no one had been injured. Now with the worst incident of antisemitic violence in American history all comfort has vanished.

The sad undeniable truth is that this nation faces a grave challenge from homegrown terrorism that has nothing to do with Isis, al-Qaida or the Islamic religion. Most of these domestic terrorists lurk in the darkest corners of the crazed, conspiratorial far right wing. But the would-be killer who shot up a Republican congressional baseball practice in 2017 had been a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

Racial violence has never been far from the surface of American life as is hauntingly commemorated in Montgomery, Alabama, by the new outdoor memorial to the thousands of victims of lynching in the south. The 2015 murder of nine black parishioners in a Bible study class at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, serves as a reminder – like Pittsburgh – that even worshipping God offers no guaranteed safety in contemporary America.

The worst modern manifestation of domestic terrorism was the 1995 bombing of a federal office building, the Murrah Building, in downtown Oklahoma City. The mass murderers – raging against the government over a deadly 1993 confrontation in Waco, Texas – used a homemade fertilizer bomb to destroy the building. Another powerful outdoor memorial (which is tragically becoming an all too frequent architectural motif) depicts 168 chairs, one for each of the dead, including 19 children in a daycare center on the site.

In his 2004 autobiography, My Life, Bill Clinton notes that initially the speculation had been that “Islamic militants” were responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. Instead, Clinton wrote hopefully, the realization that rightwing political rhetoric had become weaponized in Oklahoma City “prompted millions of Americans to reassess their own words and attitudes towards government and toward people who views differed from their own”.

If only that had been true.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/29/rightwing-terror-stalks-america-pittsburgh

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‘There Is Still So Much Evil’: Growing Anti-Semitism Stuns American Jews

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/anti-semitism-attacks.html

By Laurie Goodstein
Oct. 29, 2018

Until recent years, many Jews in America believed that the worst of anti-Semitism was over there, in Europe, a vestige of the old country.

American Jews were welcome in universities, country clubs and corporate boards that once excluded their grandparents. They married non-Jews, moved into mixed neighborhoods and by 2000, the first Jew ran for vice president on a major party ticket.

So the massacre on Saturday of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, by a man who told the police when he surrendered that he “wanted all Jews to die,” was for many a shocking wake-up call.

“This kind of evil makes me think of the Holocaust and how people can be so cruel, that there is so much evil in the world, still,” said Moshe Taube, 91, a retired cantor from Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh and a survivor of the Holocaust.

But it did not come out of nowhere, said experts in anti-Semitism. At the same time that Jews were feeling unprecedented acceptance in the United States, the climate was growing increasingly hostile, intensifying in the two years since President Trump was elected. And it comes at a time when attacks on Jews are on the rise in Europe as well, with frequent anti-Semitic episodes in France and Germany.

The hate in the United States came into full view last year as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., with lines of men carrying torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti have been cropping up on synagogues and Jewish homes around the country. Jews online are subjected to vicious slurs and threats. Many synagogues and Jewish day schools have been amping up security measures.

The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017, compared to the previous year — including bomb threats, assaults, vandalism, and anti-Semitic posters and literature found on college campuses.

A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League said that before Saturday’s shooting, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent United States history was in 1985, when a man killed a family of four in Seattle. He had mistakenly thought they were Jewish.

There was also an attack by a white supremacist on a Jewish Community Center filled with children in Los Angeles in 1999 that injured five. More recently, in 2014, a white supremacist opened fire outside a Jewish Community Center in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., killing three people.

“I’m not a Chicken Little who’s always yelling, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’ But now I think it’s worse than it’s ever been,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust history at Emory University in Atlanta and the author of a planned book on anti-Semitism.

Ms. Lipstadt said she did not wish to be seen as alarmist, because in some ways “things have never been better” for Jews in America.

But she likened anti-Semitism to a herpes infection that lies dormant and re-emerges at times of stress. It does not go away, no matter how “acculturated” Jews have become in America, because “it’s a conspiracy theory,” said Ms. Lipstadt, whose win at trial against a Holocaust denier in England was portrayed in the 2016 movie “Denial.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/anti-semitism-attacks.html

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‘Rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ is a poisonous lie used to discredit trans people

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/22/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-is-a-poisonous-lie-used-to-discredit-trans-people

The anti-trans lobby is using bad science to attack vulnerable young people


Sun 21 Oct 2018

If you were to understand two facts about transgender people, I’d want it to be these: 1) that we have always existed, and 2) that we have always been under attack for existing.

Despite our many footholds throughout history, especially outside of the western colonial gaze, the narrative that we are a new phenomenon has been widely peddled as a tool to discredit and disqualify us from public life and push us out of view.

The latest in this line-up is a fast-growing conversation about “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (or ROGD), which seeks to sate the observations of a number of parents that their children came out as transgender not only suddenly but from within a context of trans peers, groups and social media, and who are worried about the potential effects of online influence and peer pressure.

Except, like so many of the spurious ideas thrown at us, ROGD is not a real condition and never has been. The one paper on the subject, published in PLOS One – a journal that reviews only the technical aspects of the papers published, rather than the interpretation of the results – endorses the “condition” based upon the claims of 164 parent responses that met study criteria. This sample was based on online survey results sourced from three blogs that all have a strong anti-transgender history, with no testimony from any neutral or pro-transgender online spaces, or from the transgender children themselves – the people who best would be able to describe their experiences.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health released a statement on the phenomenon, stating: “The term ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)’ is not a medical entity recognised by any major professional association … therefore, it constitutes nothing more than an acronym created to describe a proposed clinical phenomenon that may or may not warrant further peer-reviewed scientific investigation.”

Dr Julia Serano, a researcher with almost two decades of experience in developmental and evolutionary biology, explores this further. Citing the far more well-researched history of gender dysphoria and client-supportive transition care, she writes “what’s ‘rapid’ about ROGD is parents’ sudden awareness and assessment of their child’s gender dysphoria (which, from the child’s standpoint, may be longstanding and thoughtfully considered)”.

When a young person comes out as trans, especially when a parent feels like it is out of the blue, it can feel like a rug is being pulled out from under one’s feet. For a parent who is struggling, the idea that some external influence is at fault can be an appealing one – but to fall back on bad science is not the solution. As Serano writes, “this is not a new type of gender dysphoria but rather a new name for a recurring parental dynamic”.

Despite this, the study has garnered a great deal of support from those in the UK and US, under the guise of “protecting” against diagnoses and treatments that are compared to a contagion.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/22/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-is-a-poisonous-lie-used-to-discredit-trans-people

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