Jeremy Corbyn’s Bigotry Problem

This is one UK phenomena I hope Democrats don’t become enchanted with.  Leave the Antisemitism to the right wing Nazi scum.

From The New York Times:

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s problematic embrace of him.

By David Leonhardt
Feb. 5, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, has a long history of playing footsie with bigotry — specifically with anti-Semitism.

“Over the years, he has attended protests and conferences alongside campaigners who have expressed anti-Semitic views,” Sam Knight, the London-based New Yorker writer, has noted. As Josh Glancy of The Sunday Times of London detailed: “Mr. Corbyn has described the constitutionally genocidal Hamas as his ‘friends.’ He’s appeared on stage with inveterate anti-Semites. He’s defended a mural that depicted hooknosed bankers running the world. He’s attended a wreath-laying ceremony that celebrated the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics massacre.”

When confronted about these instances, he has repeatedly claimed to have been unaware of his friends’ hatred. “Corbyn has an odd knack for stumbling into the arms of the Hebraically disinclined,” my colleague Bret Stephens has written.

Is Corbyn himself a bigot? I have no idea. I assume he is not. But political leaders bear a responsibility for their public allies. Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor in Florida last year, offered the pithiest version of this case, when describing his opponent, now-Governor Ron DeSantis: “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

In Corbyn’s case, anti-Semites are clearly comfortable working with him. He has been slow to apologize for cozying up to them and has done so only after intense criticism. His approach has had some similarities to the wink-wink relationship that some Republican politicians in the United States have with white nationalists.

On Sunday, Corbyn and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new star of the left flank of the Democratic Party, spoke to each other by phone about building a new trans-Atlantic political alliance. “Great to speak to @AOC on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo,”he tweeted. She responded, “It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, @jeremycorbyn!”

Most of the criticism of Ocasio-Cortez over the past few months has been somewhere between silly and unfair. She’s one of the most successful new Congress members in memory, pushing her populist, pro-climate proposals to the center of the national conversation. But her embrace of Corbyn is a mistake.

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Advancing the Rabbinic Prescription for Transgender Health Care

From Hadassah Brandeis:

By Rabbi Mike Moskowitz and Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP
January 31, 2019

Doctors and Rabbis are asked a lot of questions; it’s a big part of the job. We certainly don’t have all of the answers and so we continue to listen, research, and expand our understanding of the issues.  And, we have our own questions to help us get closer to the information that shapes our responses to the people who are asking for guidance. There can be no contradiction between science and religion when they both manifest the truth of the Divine intention. The struggle for that knowledge, and its application, is an ongoing and humbling process.

However, there are still many in both the medical and the Jewish communities who don’t yet understand gender identity and transgender experiences. They insist: “It can’t be that G-d put someone in the wrong body. G-d doesn’t make mistakes. It’s sacrilegious to change the body that G-d gave you,” and so on. No one would say this about a heart defect, deviated septum, or inflamed appendix – in part because the Torah teaches us in this week’s portion: “ורפא ירפא ” and be healed. The Talmud explains that this is the scriptural permission given to physicians offering treatment to change something that G-d has created.

Similarly, the wicked Turnus Rufus asked of Rabbi Akiva: If your G-d is a lover of the poor, why then does G-d not provide for them? R’ Akiva argues that the inequality experienced by many in this world doesn’t exist for us to sustain, but rather for us to change. G-d presents inequality as an opportunity for us to be in partnership, to heal the divide and emulate the Divine by supporting others.

Turnus Rufus replies that by changing the differential that G-d constructed, we are going against the Divine will and angering G-d. In response, R’ Akivah shares an interesting parable: To what is this similar? It is analogous to a king who, angry with his child, confines them to prison and orders that no one give them anything to eat or drink. Someone then disobeys and provides for the child’s needs and when the king hears about it, the king sends the person gifts in thankful recognition. R’ Akivah continues: We are all that child to G-d. When we improve the lives of those who are suffering, it brings pleasure and joy to G-d.

G-d, as our parent, wants us to support each other and make sure that we are all provided for.

We demonstrate to G-d that we see ourselves as G-d’s children when we take care of humanity as we would our immediate family. As a society, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of all, including our transgender siblings. We must make resources available, including all of the resources of modern medicine, whenever needed. It is not only permitted to provide transgender medical procedures, but we are obligated to do so when necessary.

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Babs Siperstein, pioneering N.J. trans activist, dies at 76

From The Washington Blade:

by Chris Johnson
February 4, 2019

Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, a transgender Democratic activist in New Jersey who’s credited with taking a lead role in pushing a pro-trans state birth certificate law for her state, died over the weekend at age 76, according to local media reports.

Siperstein died days after the law went into effect on Feb. 1. The “Babs Siperstein Law” allows individuals in New Jersey to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without proof of surgery and offer a gender-neutral option. The law was signed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

The first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, Siperstein was appointed in 2011 to the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee and served there until 2017. Siperstein was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Speaking with the Washington Blade at the convention, Siperstein was dubious of Trump’s pledge to support LGBT people during his speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Her prediction later proved true.)

“There’s nothing behind it,” Siperstein said. “He said unequivocally that he was going to appoint the most conservative Supreme Court justices. He will say anything.”

Although she was a Democrat, Siperstein wasn’t afraid to take on members of her own party on the issue of transgender rights.

In 2015, Siperstein told the Blade she was “extremely disappointed” in Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), now a U.S. senator and a 2020 presidential candidate, for her actions as California attorney general appealing a court order granting a transgender prison inmate in California access to gender reassignment surgery.

“I would think that any political candidate, or any public servant, that would fight to prevent basic and necessary medical treatment for any person would be incompetent to serve,” Siperstein said. “How can you trust any public servant, any elected official, who fights to prevent basic and necessary medical service for any person? Who’s next?”

Sean Meloy, who served as the DNC’s Director of LGBTQ Engagement and is now political director for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Siperstein built a strong legacy.

“For so many in the Democratic Party, Babs was the first openly trans person they ever met and she undoubtably changed the hearts and minds of many party leaders who were not yet committed to trans equality,” Meloy said. “She was a constant advocate for the entire LGBTQ community and helped make the Democratic Party more accepting not just of trans people, but trans candidates as well. Her presence in the DNC helped prepare the party and pave the way for trailblazing trans Democratic candidates like Danica Roem and Christine Hallquist – and her impact will be felt for years to come.”

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Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

From The Hill:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is vying to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, introduced Thursday a bill to allow transgender people to serve in the military.

The bill, which was also introduced by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), comes weeks after the Supreme Court paved the way for President Trump to begin implementing a ban on transgender military service.

“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” Gillibrand, an Armed Service Committee member, said in a statement. “We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country.”

In January, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stay two district court orders that blocked Trump’s policy from taking effect. The ruling allows the administration to temporarily enforce its restrictions on transgender people serving in the military.

The new policy still has not taken effect, though, because of one remaining injunction placed on it by a federal district court in Maryland.

Gillibrand, Reed, Collins and the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced similar legislation in 2017, when Trump first announced his policy.

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