Antisemitism

    Steven Spielberg, Honored by USC Shoah Foundation, Cautions Against Rise of Extremism


    On March 25, 2024, Steven Spielberg, the winner of three Academy Awards, was honored by the University of Southern California, 30 years after founding the school’s Shoah Foundation and releasing the landmark Holocaust film “Schindler’s List.”

    Spielberg denounced the “rise of extremist views” and called for people to use “the power of empathy” against antisemitism or anti-Muslim hate. He also spoke out on behalf of both those killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and innocent women and children killed in Gaza.

    “We can rage against the heinous acts committed by the terrorists of Oct. 7 and also decry the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza,” the filmmaker and Shoah Foundation founder said as he accepted the University of Southern California’s highest honor, the University Medallion. “This makes us a unique force for good in the world. And here’s why we are here today to celebrate the work of the Shoah Foundation, which is more crucial now than it even was in 1994.”


    Anti-Semitism: Zurich attacker radicalized in Tunisia and online

    SWI:

    The 15-year-old Swiss national with a Tunisian immigrant background is in custody until further notice. On the evening of March 2, he attacked a 50-year-old Jewish man with a knife and seriously injured him. In a video in Arabic, the teenager declared his allegiance to Islamic State (IS).

    Canadian Jewish Film Festival Cancelled Due to Gaza-Related Threats

    The Forward:

    Concerts, book talks and other cultural events are increasingly being canceled because of security concerns about protests over Israel’s war in Gaza.

    The Playhouse Cinema in Hamilton, Ontario, about 40 miles from Toronto, became the latest venue to call off a Jewish-themed event when it announced Tuesday that the annual Hamilton Jewish Film Festival would not be held in the theater as scheduled in April.

    Switzerland Reports Unprecedented Antisemitism in 2023

    SWI:

    The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism (GRA) reports that in 2023, 1,130 anti-Semitic cases took place in the German- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, In 2022, the figure was 910.

    Of the ten physical assaults against Jewish people registered in German- and Italian-speaking Switzerland last year, seven came after the Hamas attacks. Some 114 of the 155 “real world” incidents were logged after October 7, or 74% of the annual total.


    Another group, the Intercommunity Coordination Against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD), previously reported that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 68% in French-speaking Switzerland last year. Almost half of the incidents occurred after 7 October.

    Jews in Hiding

    Dara Horn, writing in The Atlantic:

    At a Shabbat dinner I attended at one college, students went around the table sharing what they wished they could say to their non-Jewish friends: I wish I could say I want to spend a semester in Israel. I wish I could say I work at a Jewish preschool. I wish I could say I volunteered at a Jewish hospital. I sat at the table stupefied. They were in hiding.

    US Attorney General Speaks Out Against Antisemitism

    US Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke to the ADL’s “Now Is Never” Summit in New York on March 7, 2024.

    Garland1came from a family of immigrants who fled religious persecution early in the 20th Century and sought refuge in the United States. His grandmother was one of five children born in what is now Belarus. Three made it to the United States, including his grandmother. Two did not make it. Those two were killed in the Holocaust.2


    1. Garland was raised in Conservative Judaism. His family name had been changed from Garfinkel several generations earlier. ↩︎

    2. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Administers the Oath of Allegiance and Delivers Congratulatory Remarks at Ellis Island Ceremony in Celebration of Constitution Week and Citizenship Day ↩︎

    Never Again?

    David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel, writes in his newspaper:

    We had thought, after World War II, that much of humanity had recognized the evil it could demonstrably do, recoiled, and largely determined that it must not happen again. We had thought that, at least in our lifetimes and for a few generations to come, the oldest hatred had been marginalized. We were wrong.

    Two generations ago, most of my father’s family fled Nazi Germany for London just in time — a year before the Frankfurt synagogue founded by my great-grandfather was burned down on Kristallnacht. No governments in purportedly reasonable countries are endorsing antisemitism and the targeting of Jews. But there is growing empathy in some government quarters for the obsessive and skewed hostility to Israel, and for policies that would weaken the only Jewish state’s capacity to defend itself against its avowedly genocidal enemies.

    I don’t think there’s been a more worrying period for the Jewish people since World War II.

    The central lesson of the Holocaust is what it says about humanity’s capacity for evil. It never occurred to me that it couldn’t happen again.

    Israel has never been more important to the Jewish people. Jews must defend themselves to survive. I don’t think defeating antisemitism is a realistic goal.

    I hope I’m wrong,

    Jerry Seinfeld Heckled by Anti-Israel Supporters

    TMZ:

    Jerry Seinfeld exited the annual State of the World Jewry address . . . in NYC to anti-Israel protesters accusing him of supporting genocide … but he didn’t seem too fazed.

    The event featured Bari Weiss, founder of The Free Press.

    Video of Heckling

    Very sad.


    This is the address that Bari Weiss delivered at 92NY, a proudly Jewish cultural and community center where people all over the world connect through culture, arts, entertainment and conversation. 

    Antisemitism Today

    Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, writing in Time, asserts that today’s antisemitism is more likely to come from the left:

    Neither South Africa nor other states have brought a genocide case against China for its conduct in Tibet or Xinjiang, or against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. There is something specifically noteworthy about leveling the charge at the Jewish state—something intertwined with the new narrative of the Jews as archetypal oppressors rather than archetypal victims. Call it the genocide sleight of hand: if the Jews are depicted as genocidal—if Israel becomes the very archetype of a genocidal state—then Jews are much less likely to be conceived as a historically oppressed people engaged in self-defense.

    The new narrative of Jews as oppressors is, in the end, far too close for comfort to the antisemitic tradition of singling out Jews as uniquely deserving of condemnation and punishment, whether in its old religious form or its Nazi iteration. Like those earlier forms of antisemitism, the new kind is not ultimately about the Jews, but about the human impulse to point the finger at someone who can be made to carry the weight of our social ills. Oppression is real. Power can be exercised without justice. Israel should not be immune from criticism when it acts wrongfully. Yet the horrific history and undefeated resilience of antisemitism mean that modes of rhetorical attack on Israel and on Jews should be subject to careful scrutiny.

    Feldman’s book, To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People will be released on March 6, 2024.


    If anything is new about post-Holocaust antisemitism, it’s the accusations that the only Jewish state in the world is committing another Holocaust. As Professor Feldman notes, “Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Hamas, even if found to involve killing disproportionate number of civilians, do not turn Israel into a genocidal actor comparable to the Nazis or the Hutu regime in Rwanda.” Those who hurl this accusation at the State of Israel — and sometimes any random Jew in the world — expect that the statement will be hurtful. And a desire to hurt Jews is at the core of antisemitism.


    UK Prime Minister Speaks Out Against Antisemitism; Pledges More Funding

    On February 28, 2024, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke at the annual dinner of the Community Security Trust (CST), whose mission is to protect the UK’s Jewish community:

    We’ve got to end this passive tolerance of words and actions that go against what we stand for.

    Yes, you can march and protest with passion; you can demand the protection of civilian life but no, you cannot call for Jihad there is no “context” in which its acceptable to beam antisemitic tropes onto Big Ben and there’s no cause you can use to justify the support of proscribed terrorist groups, like Hamas.

    And yes, you can freely criticise the actions of this government, the Israeli government or indeed any government.

    But no, you cannot use that as an excuse to call for the eradication of a State – or any kind of hatred or antisemitism.

    These statements are fundamental to the liberal democratic values that define Britain.

    They are the very essence of our identity of who we are as a country.

    To belong here is to believe these things; to stand up for these things.

    And it’s time we were much, much clearer about this.

    Sunak also pledged a minimum of £18 million in CST funding every year for the next four years. Previously, CST was required to bid for funding every year. This will give the organization a reliable funding stream.

    The full transcript of the speech is available here.

    See also, The Times of Israel

    Une agression antisémite dans un bus parisien (en français)

    Times of Israel:

    La vidéo a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux ces derniers jours : elle montre un homme, Léo Nicolian, extrémiste connu de la sphère complotiste, se filmant harcelant et tenant des propos antisémites envers un autre passager d’un bus de la RATP, un homme qui semble être un Juif orthodoxe.

    Le Parquet de Paris s’est depuis saisi de l’affaire, après que la séquence, filmée le 6 février, a été largement partagée en ligne.

    Vous pouvez voir la vidéo sur X.

    Voir aussi: European Jewish Congress

    Harvard Crimson Editorial on the Antisemitic Cartoon

    Campus discourse has gone toxic, and this ugly, thoughtless Instagram post is the worst of it.

    Harvard Crimson

    Yad Vashem Chairman Reacts to Statements made by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

    Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan strongly condemned the remarks made by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, asserting that they are not only outrageous but also deeply hateful and indicative of ignorance. Dayan emphasized that President Lula da Silva’s statements,

    exhibit clear antisemitism, a stance consistent with the definition provided by the IHRA, an organization Brazil itself aims to join. Drawing false comparisons between the defensive actions of a sovereign nation protecting its citizens from a terrorist incursion, which resulted in the tragic deaths of over 1,200 innocent civilians, and the heinous atrocities committed by the Nazis, who systematically exterminated 6 million Jews, is unacceptable.

    Dayan is the Chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Prior to his position at Yad Vashem, he served as Israel’s Consul General in New York. Previously, he served as Chairman of the YESHA Council and before that as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Elad Software Systems Ltd., a company he founded. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1955.

    Why Antisemitism Persists - A Jewish Perspective

    Boaz Munro1 writing in Tablet:

    Why don’t we see more efforts to dismantle antisemitism? Well, for one thing, Jews make up only 0.2% of the global population. We’re outnumbered more than 110:1 by Muslims and Christians—each. So if the onus is on Jews to start the conversation—which it shouldn’t be—then we’re spread laughably thin.

    Non-Jews seem to have no interest in the subject; societies are loath to name the bigotries they’re founded on, much less challenge them. The American South was built on hideous racism, but do you think antebellum Southerners went around saying, “Hi there, fellow racist! Another wonderful day for racism”? Of course not.

    That society couldn’t begin to change on its own. It had to be confronted.

    After thousands of years of grinding persecution, culminating in the Holocaust, Zionism and Israel represent Jewish resistance—the stubborn assertion of our right to live and the legacy of those who refused to tiptoe, rationalize, or minimize any longer.


    1. Boaz Munro is a writer, web designer, and educator. He studied Hebrew, Arabic, and modern Middle East history at Brown University and The George Washington University. A grandson of Holocaust survivors from Poland with family in Israel, he’s originally from Pittsburgh. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and daughter. ↩︎

    Harvard Antisemitic Cartoon

    Harvard University Interim President Alan M. Garber:

    A few groups purporting to speak on behalf of Harvard affiliates recently circulated a flagrantly antisemitic cartoon in a post on social media channels. The cartoon, included in a longer post, depicted what appeared to be an Arab man and a Black man with nooses around their necks. The nooses are held by a hand imprinted with the Star of David, and a dollar sign appears in the middle of the star. Online condemnation of this trope-filled image was swift, and Harvard promptly issued a statement condemning the posted cartoon. While the groups associated with the posting or sharing of the cartoon have since sought to distance themselves from it in various ways, the damage remains, and our condemnation stands.

    Alan Garber, assumed the office on January 2, 2024, following the resignation of Claudine Gay.

    David Wolpe, from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, is a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School. Rabbi Wolpe shared the post in question. It’s clearly antisemitic.

    A group of pro-Palestinian faculty and staff at Harvard University later apologized. But The Times of Israel reported that the group:

    then republished the post but replaced the antisemitic image with one of radical civil rights activist Kwame Ture — formally known as Stokely Carmichael — famous for saying the “only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.”

    See also, WSJ.