Jew Roundup

The Phoenix New Times has reached a new low in its publication of Jew Roundup by Michael Lacey. At the request of a congregant, my Rabbi wrote the following response, Letter to the Editor, to the Phoenix New Times and encourages others who find the material as reprehensible as he does to contact them, complain about the article, and demand an apology and retraction of the material.

In addition to calling the Phoenix New Times at 602-271-0040, you can also email the editor by clicking this link.

As Rabbi Lavinsky points out, it is not the racism of this post alone that is troubling, but also,

The publication of this article just a few days before Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, highlights just how clueless the New Times is to the sensibility of a people that has already done more than their share of suffering over the years.

Jew and non-Jew alike, please take a moment to read Rabbi Lavinsky’s Letter to the Editor, and contact the editor yourself.

We must not be silent.

Neo-Nazi march blocked in Dresden

Here’s a really cool article from the JTA about 10,000 protestors stopping a neo-nazi march in Germany’s eastern town of Dresden. You can read the full article here.

While most of the protestors were peaceful and simply formed a human chain to prevent the neo-nazis from moving forward some became violent, physically blocking their progress by burning trash bins and destroying the vehicles they had traveled in. This is my favorite part of the article,

Ultimately, police informed the right-wing marchers that authorities could not guarantee their safety, and urged them to call off the march.

I love reading these types of things and am especially thrilled by this because it happened in Germany. It’s poetic that the nation that caused the destruction of 6 million Jews has stopped what Lena Roth calls “the biggest neo-Nazi march in Europe.”

What’s even more amazing about this is that it all happened on the 65th anniversary of Dresden’s bombing, killing an estimated 25,000 civilians. At a time when it would be so easy to let the gears of war turn, 10,000 people turned the gears of peace.

Hey, Jew!

Before I start, I want to be clear that this post is not about an anti-semitic incident that happened to me. Rather it’s a tale expressing my amazement at the level of ignorance and insensitivity people still display towards Jews, and the manner in which I intend to deal with it when I cross its path.

If you know me you know where I work, and if you don’t know me you can figure it out pretty easily, but for the sake of protecting the innocent I’m not going to say it outright here. At my current job I have had two separate incidents with someone speaking ignorantly towards me. Today was my second incident. The really great thing about this one is my cube-mate is also Jewish (it’s really great—this has never happened before), so I had a little support.

A fellow co-worker poked me with a stick from my side and said, “Hey, Jew.” When confronted with a semi-aggressive “What?!” he plead ignorance and pleaded, “I said ‘you.'”. Not buying it I proceeded to tell him how inappropriate, rude, and disrespectful it was. When I mentioned there was a history to the context of being called “Jew” he said he didn’t know it. So, I explained briefly a little thing called the Holocaust, yellow stars, and Juden.

While he still tried to play it off as a goofy bastard, I challenged him to approach a black co-worker and address him in a similar, relevant manner, at which he promptly declined.

I was mildly pissed off by this and after the offender left my fellow Jew turned and told me that if I had not said anything he would have. At which point we discussed it for a couple of minutes.

As I think about this in hindsight I am a bit more pissed off about it than initially. There will be ignoramuses, schmucks, and people who make honest mistakes, but in spite of this, I do not know why people will speak to a Jewish person in a racial manner that they would not address a black person. Therefore, it is my new agenda when confronting this issue I will issue the challenge. If given the opportunity, I will enlist the help of black people around me to cooperate with my challenge to the offender, making himself available at a moment’s notice, so that a point may be strongly impressed upon the person to never repeat the mistake again.

This is something that I will no longer deal with wearing a smile and believing in the innate goodness of people. I will address the issue aggressively with a determined goal of preventing it from happening to another from this person, or from another who witnesses the event.

Charity funding anti-Israel, pro-Iran profs

I’m amazed anew every time I read an article about this occurring in the United States. Read the full article here.

The Alavi Foundation has aggressively given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Columbia and Rutgers for Middle Eastern and Persian studies programs that employ professors sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship, the newspaper reported Monday.

I wonder how long this ‘foundation’ will be allowed to continue operation.

Hungarian political party promises ‘cleansing’ of country

At a dinner Sunday night I spoke with a Jewish couple who had visited Vienna and were nearly not allowed into a local synagogue. The anti-Semitism is so bad in Vienna that Jews are scared and won’t let anyone into the community they don’t know. I Googled anti-Semitism in Austria and found next to nothing.

This article is not about Austria; it is about Hungary. A representative of the Jobbik political party “promised a new extermination of ‘vermin’ in a forthcoming ‘cleansing’ of the Hungarian nation.” Take a moment to read the full article here. Read more about the Jobbik party here.

When you come across an article about anti-Semitic activities tell your friends and family about it. Tweet about it. Facebook it. Whatever. Get the word out. Anti-Semitic activities are increasing and we must make people aware and act against it in whatever way we can.

Cantor wants Jews to act before it is ‘too late’

Jews need to get more vocal and more active. With the increase of threats and action against Israel and Jews we need to do more to stop those who want to kill us in this generation.

via Cantor wants Jews to act before it is ‘too late’ | JTA – Jewish & Israel News.

Thanks, Pat Oliphant, you anti-Semite

I make an effort to have a positive online identity through all of my media interactions, so I won’t post what I really want to about Pat Oliphant’s cartoon.

What I will say is that the perception this ‘artist’ has is not the only problem. The big problem is the newspapers that published it. How did this anti-semitic cartoon make it to print? It may as well have been published with blood-libel charges.

Here’s JTA’s response:

Jewish groups call Oliphant cartoon ‘anti-Semitic’

JERUSALEM (TJA) — Jewish groups have denounced a cartoon by a prize-winning political cartoonist as anti-Semitic.

Pat Oliphant’s cartoon, published Wednesday, shows a headless figure goose-stepping while pushing a large Star of David with fangs and pursuing a tiny woman carrying a child labeled “Gaza.” The syndicated cartoon appeared in newspapers around the world.

“Pat Oliphant’s outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League national director, said in a statement. “It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition. The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart. “

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement: “The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras. It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide.”

The Wiesenthal Center called on online media to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.

Letter to the AZ Republic

Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky of Beth El Congregation in Phoenix, AZ wrote to the AZ Republic in response to an anti-Israel article written by Bishara A. Bahbah. It is reproduced here to do my part to inform.

Earlier this week, there was a horrible anti-Israel article written by Bishara A. Bahbah in the Arizona Republic, and I decided to write a letter to the editor as a rebuttal to his lies.  While I’m not sure that my letter will be published, I would like to share it with you, my friends and congregants. (As a postscript to my letter, I specified that while I am the rabbi at Beth El Congregation; I wrote this as an individual and that my views did not represent the views of those of the congregation or its officers).

Letter to the Editor:

Adolph Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, was famous for having said “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.”  Goebbels would have been proud of Bishara A. Bahbah’s piece “The real losers in Gaza: Civilians, peace process.”   Bahbah’s article was filled with familiar lies and distortions about the Middle East and failed to place the blame for the recent violence squarely on the shoulders of those responsible for the recent violence, namely the Islamo-Fascists of Hamas and their supporters.

There is indeed a tragedy of epic proportions unfolding as innocent civilians, both in Gaza and Israel, suffer terrible disruption in their lives, including countless deaths and injuries.  But we must not forget that it was Hamas which decided not to extend the cease fire that it had flagrantly violated for months, and which erupted into war when Islamic terrorists launched hundreds of rockets into Israel, forcing Israel to respond quickly and decisively as any sovereign nation would do.

The express goal of Hamas is to inflict a maximum of civilian casualties, not only upon Israel but on their own population, for even Muslims who fall victims to their brothers’ bloodthirst are hailed as “Shahids” – martyrs who will enter paradise surrounded by 72 virgins, ready to indulge their desires.  These terrorists actually increase the bloodshed among the ranks of their own innocent civilians by purposely embedding themselves and their armaments in neighborhoods, schools, and hospitals.  In sharp contrast, Israel has taken unprecedented measures to minimize the number of civilian casualties even among its enemies. Yet sadly, because the cowardly Hamas terrorists use their women and children as pawns, the number of civilian casualties soars.

Never before have we seen the likes of Hamas cutthroats who bask in the pool of blood which they have initiated.

Hamas representative Fathi Hamad proudly declared:

“For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly, [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as much as you desire life.”
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) Feb. 29, 2008]
click this URL if you would like to watch this speech

It seems that every time Hamas is handed a resounding military defeat by Israel, its leaders call for increased violence, and vow to erase the “Zionist Entity” (They can’t even bring themselves to say the word “Israel”).  Hamas caused this war by initiating a barrage of rocket fire into Southern Israel and it is now solely within Hamas’ power to end the carnage.  This cannot be achieved by a cease fire imposed by the United Nations, the European Union or the United States.  Hamas needs to surrender unconditionally, abstain from all terrorist activity, and begin to deal with Israel in the arena of diplomacy.  Until they do, every loss of life and limb, every ounce of innocent blood spilled on both sides of the border, should rightfully be attributed to the murderers of Hamas.

Praying for a lasting and just peace for all,
Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky

Flagrant Anti-Semitism…

Karatzaferis, the head of the far right political party LAOS, says that with some effort the Jews could be placed among the nations of justice, “but what do you expect from a race that crucified God the only time he came to earth.” Later he asks rhetorically, “Yet would God killers care about a few hundred innocent children?”

via Greek weekly calls Jews ‘Christ killers’ | JTA – Jewish & Israel News.