Be your own anti-Semitic hall monitor!
In the wake of the recent debate over a biting cartoon aimed at Benjamin Netanyahu, Occupy Judaism’s resident technologist, Dan Sieradski has created antisemiticornot.com. It’s a tongue-in-cheek site that allows users to post and vote on figures, organizations or concepts that may or may not be considered anti-Semitic.
According to Sieradski, “Our goal is to entertain while taking the piss out of self-appointed Jewish leaders who deem themselves the sole arbiters of anti-Semitism and often pursue fallacious accusations in order to advance their institutions’ own economic interests. We are appalled by genuine anti-Semitism, but we are equally appalled when allegations of anti-Semitism are disingenuously trumped up, as it dilutes the meaning of the term and makes dismissal of real anti-Semitism that much more likely.”
Do you have a favorite alleged anti-Semite you’d like to see judged in a public forum? Want to help decide whether Michael Jackson, Ron Paul, or Quark the Ferengi are truly anti-Semites? Then head over to antisemiticornot.com and help democratize the monitoring process.
Newt Gingrich is in for a tough few weeks.
Following a decisive loss to Mitt Romney in Florida, Gingrich will move through a number of contests that appear to favor Romney before Super Tuesday, on March 6, analysts say.
Next up for the Republicans is Nevada, which will hold its caucuses on February 4. Romney won the Nevada caucuses easily in 2008 and has led in polling there this year.
Romney, who is Mormon, will get a boost from the state’s large Mormon population - 26% of 2008 GOP caucus-goers were Mormon in Nevada. Jews make up 2.8% of the Nevada population; 2% of Republican caucus-goers described themselves as Jewish in 2008.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who have given a combined $10 million to a Super PAC that supports Gingrich, are based in Nevada. Adelson has been a major supporter of the Las Vegas Jewish community, and a special evening caucus will be held for Jewish voters at a Jewish school that bears his name.
Florida’s Jewish voters were in the crosshairs of Republican efforts to peel support away from President Obama in the general election.
Exit polls from the Republican primary suggest that the strategy may not be working particularly well.
According to polls posted by Fox News, only 1% of voters in today’s Republican primary identified themselves as Jewish. That’s compared to 3% of Republican primary voters identifying themselves as Jewish in 2008.
The polls involve a relatively small number of voters, roughly 2,000 in today’s poll, and experts warn that they shouldn’t be taken as representative, especially when dealing with a small sub-group like GOP Jews.
“It could be statistical noise,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “It’s hard to extrapolate much from that.”
But fewer Jewish voters in the primary could correlate to a lack of enthusiasm among Jews for the Republican field. Most Jewish Republican leaders back Mitt Romney over Newt Gingrich.
“You have to hold your nose,” said Republican Jewish voter Micki Kaufman of the Republican hopefuls. Kaufman winters in Boca Raton, Florida. Though she votes in New York, other Florida seniors shared her views.
The Forward reported last week on Floridian Jews’ specific anxieties over a Gingrich presidency.
Barack Obama won an estimated 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008. Republicans are hoping to cut into that margin by raising questions about the strength of his support for Israel.
Disclosures released today by the Obama campaign cite more prominent Jews among Obama’s top fundraisers.
Prominent additions in the latest quarterly report include American Council for World Jewry chair Jack Rosen and former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Alan Solow.
The Forward reported in December that Obama had lost no prominent Jewish fundraisers between 2008 and 2012.
Today’s disclosure covers fundraising on behalf of the Obama campaign by individuals through the fourth quarter of 2011. Bundlers are grouped into broad categories by the amount they raised, with the highest grouping including those who have raised over half a million dollars.
Rosen, who was not on the bundler list released following the third quarter of 2011, is now acknowledged to have raised over half a million dollars for the campaign. He hosted a fundraiser at his home for Obama in late November.
Solow, who was also not on the previous list, is now listed as having raised between $200,000 and $500,000. Solow was among the hosts of a January Jewish community fundraiser at which Obama spoke, though funds raised at that event would not be covered in this report.
Mitt Romney forced Holocaust survivors to eat non-Kosher food, a Gingrich robocall claimed today.
The claim ties longstanding criticism over a 2003 veto Romney signed as Massachusetts governor to the specter of mistreated Holocaust survivors in an 11th-hour bid for south Florida’s Jewish vote.
The call, available here, references a bill Romney vetoed as governor that would have continued funding of kosher food in nursing homes.
And while the veto has been covered heavily in the past, and reported on as recently as this week, the charge that Romney’s decision specifically hurt Holocaust survivors appears to be a novel one.
“Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher,” the recorded caller intones. “Where is Mitt Romney’s compassion for our seniors? Tuesday you can end Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy on religious freedom, with a vote for Newt Gingrich.”
The call comes in the context of a tough battle over south Florida’s sizable Jewish vote – a battle Gingrich appears to be losing. Interviews in south Florida last week suggested that Jewish seniors in the area lacked enthusiasm for Gingrich, expressing particular concern over his character.
The Great Schlep is back.
That’s the campaign that, in 2008, enlisted comedian Sarah Silverman to guilt young Jews into traveling to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.
Now, the organization that ran the Great Schlep has reorganized for the 2012 campaign — this time as a super PAC.
“If Barack Obama doesn’t become the next president of the United States, I’m going to blame the Jews,” Silverman warned, jokingly, in The Great Schlep’s 2008 viral video hit.
There’s no word yet on what the group, called the Jewish Council for Education and Research, plans to do in the current cycle. But by declaring itself a super PAC in a January 11 filing with the Federal Elections Commission, the group makes itself eligible to receive unlimited funds from individual donors or corporations for use on political expenditures.
The JCER is one of a small handful of super PACs engaged in Jewish causes. The most prominent is the Emergency Committee for Israel PAC, which the Forward reported on in January. Another was created to support one congressional candidate in California; a third is mostly dormant.
JCER was moderately active as a traditional PAC in 2011, spending only $9000 that year, including $1500 in advertising in support of President Obama in the St. Louis Jewish Light, a Jewish newspaper.
Mik Moore, listed as treasurer on the group’s latest filing, declined to comment for the Forward.
“Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X. And he is an Islamo-Socialist-Revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet…Saul Alinsky!”
— Bill Maher
(note: contains explicit language; in other words, this is HBO and that !?@# isn’t bleeped out)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center yesterday trumpeted its success in forcing YouTube to remove a heinously anti-semitic Iranian animated cartoon.
Putting the principles of free speech aside for a second, it’s difficult to see what possible good YouTube could be doing by hosting such hateful propaganda. As the Wiesenthal Center notes, the campaign of which the cartoon was a part:
seeks to “denounce the conspicuous lie of the ‘planed [sic] murder of 6 million Jews during the Second World War’ allegedly called ‘Holocaust’.”
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to hear by tweet that the same champions who would fight the Google-owned YouTube on behalf of the Jews of the world would then turn around and put up the same animation on their own Flickr feed.
Perhaps the Center thought that its financial interests were best served by having an audience who knew exactly what type of frightening video it had been saved from, since the letter ends:
Please help the Center to effectively meet this unprecedented challenge so that we can continue fighting anti-Semitism, Holocaust revisionism and denial.
It is not uncommon for us here in the small world of Jewish journalism (or, as Marc Tracy over at Tablet so aptly dubbed it, the “shtetlsphere”) to marvel when The New York Times runs a story that would seem even too narrowly Jewish (or Israeli) for us. It happens, strangely, all the time. We don’t even feel beat, just confused.
But it is rare when, embedded in such a story, there is an acknowledgment of the inordinate interest that the paper of record takes in Jewish life. This morning I was reading an article in the sports section about the soccer team of Kiryat Shmona, one of Israel’s northernmost cities just on the border with Lebanon, home to 25,000 people. That’s right, the soccer team of Kiryat Shmona. At least the Times had the good sense to anticipate my incredulity with this:
When The New York Times recently contacted Adi Faraj, the club’s 26-year-old press officer, about doing an article about the team, he was initially convinced the phone call was a hoax.
“Why would The New York Times want to write about us?” he said.
When Newt Gingrich is called out for using the phrase “food stamp president,” he fiercely defends the idea that he is simply pointing out the obvious: that under Obama more people signed up for food stamps. Simple as that. He is not gently plucking racist tropes for the benefit of his base, but just telling it like it is. The man has plausible deniability. He can wink and then say he was just blinking.
So I’m sure that will be the case when I bring up Gingrich’s fondness for mentioning a certain Saul Alinsky. The former speaker is just stating a fact.
And boy does he bring Alinsky up. I’ve heard Alinsky’s name mentioned by Gingrich in a handful of debates, usually by way of characterizing the president, as in Obama is a “Saul Alinsky radical” or “the centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky.” But what really struck me was the number of times Gingrich brought up Alinsky in his victory speech when he won the South Carolina primary: three.
Now if you aren’t in that subsection of the “east coast liberal elite” that is closely following every twist and turn of this primary season, you might be asking yourself at this point, “Who the hell is Saul Alinsky?”
I’m willing to bet that has been the reaction of the vast majority of Americans, even for those who have really been tuning in to this race.
Andrew Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, appears on a local cable program to apologize for his recent column proposing that Israel assassinate President Obama. It’s a wrenchingly, gruesomely compelling scene of a broken man who plainly has no idea how he got himself in this mess.
I was basically writing the column to draw, you know, draw interest I guess to the Iranian situation and to get people’s reaction to it, and like in no ways, means or form to advocate anything… I just felt I was doing my job as an editor – an owner and publisher, to get the readers to wake up to what’s happening with Iran and Israel and the nuclear situation…
That’s actually a bit disingenuous. What he wrote in the column was, “You have got to believe, as I do, that all options are on the table.” In other words, I mean what I say. On the other hand, he repeats this idea over and over, that it was just a thought exercise, and you get the impression that he has convinced himself he didn’t mean it.
Call me stupid, call me naïve, call me morally insane, whatever words you want to apply… It’s storming outside as we speak and I’ve always felt that when a storm happens, that God’s angry with me.
Still. “The intentions were good, to get more people involved, to promote Israel’s side.” How could that be a bad thing?
One of the most intriguing threads is his recollection of his January 15 interview with Israel’s deputy consul general in Atlanta. Toward the end, he says, “she wanted to talk about Iran”:
I guess we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that Andrew Adler has resigned as publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times. His January 13 column, proposing that Israel might consider assassinating President Obama, was enormously embarrassing to Israel, its supporters and Jews everywhere.
Removing him from his visible position makes life a lot easier for the rest of us, doesn’t it?
One could argue that Adler’s outburst shouldn’t cause Jews to cringe; after all, we know that supporting Israel and loving America are not incompatible. We can’t be blamed collectively for the blathering of one fool, even if he provided fuel for the fevered imaginings of those who believe Jews are disloyal. We should have outgrown the old habit of worrying about what others think of us. Proud Jews do what they need to do, not what the world tells them to do. On the other hand, we also worry that Israel is waging a war against delegitimization and isolation, fighting for its good name and legitimacy in the eyes of the world. That is, we sneer at the opinions of the world, but we’re also worried sick about the opinions of the world. I’m sure those two thoughts fit together somehow, though I’m not sure how.
Coral Springs, Fla. — It doesn’t take long to find Obama voters in the synagogues and retirement communities of Jewish south Florida. Mitt Romney has fans here, too. Newt Gingrich supporters are a little harder to come by.
And Jewish Rick Santorum supporters? In two and a half days of talking to Jews here, the Forward had found exactly none.
But then Santorum himself came to town. And though Santorum is known for his emphasis on social issues, some of the biggest applause lines at the Broward County rally on Sunday came when the candidate talked tough on Iran. While establishment Jewish Republicans have been absent from the Santorum camp, Jewish Santorum supporters at the rally seemed to represent an enthusiastic, if not overwhelmingly numerous, grassroots bunch.
“He’s the only conservative,” said Mark Kleiman, a Jewish Santorum supporter. “Romney and Gingrich are liberals.”
The Coral Springs rally came one day after a poor showing by Santorum in South Carolina’s primary, where he received just 17% of the vote. The victor of the caucuses in Iowa, Santorum now trails both Romney and Gingrich in Florida by double digits.
So tonight I stand corrected. After New Hampshire I was sure that Mitt had this all wrapped up and that’s what I wrote here. But tonight I know I was wrong.
I didn’t take into account the Sheldon Adelson factor.
Five million dollars from Newt Gingrich’s buddy has given the former speaker yet another life in this contest. This wasn’t the only reason, of course. It helped him that Romney fumbled badly in handling questions about his wealth — dismissing as “not very much” his speaking fees that alone put him in the 1% and acting sketchy when questioned about his tax returns. It made him seem like a bad candidate for arguing that he was the real defender of all Americans in an eventual match up with Obama. At the same time, Newt used those debates to his advantage and did what he does best — condescend to everyone and at the same time declare himself persecuted. It’s straight out of the Nixon playbook, with an added dash of Newt’s fierceness.
Now this race is going to get interesting. And, more importantly, the Jews are back in play!
With the early date of the Florida primary this year it’s the first chance that a large population of Jews will have their say as a community about the Republican contest — though, it should be said, as everywhere in the country, it is a minority of Jews who register Republican to begin with. So here are a few questions that occur to me tonight…
Newt Gingrich’s big win in the South Carolina Republican primary raises the stakes even higher in Florida, the first race in which the Jewish vote will be a significant factor.
“This makes it a two-man race in Florida,” said Steven Abrams, the Gingrich campaign’s chairman for Florida’s Palm Beach County and an elected county commissioner. “There’s a lot more upside potential in Newt. We’re organized in every [Florida] county. The volunteers are very fervent.”
The latest Florida polls showed Romney leading Gingrich by between 15% and 24%. Romney holds big advantages in Florida, where his TV ads have been up for weeks and as many as a quarter of the voters have already cast ballots in early voting.
But Gingrich backers in Florida say the contest has completely changed after South Carolina.
Florida will mark the first primary state with a large number of Jewish voters. Although most of the state’s more than half a million Jews are Democrats, 2008 exit polls showed that 3% of Florida Republican primary voters were Jewish. Only a handful of South Carolina Republican primary voters are Jews.
One day after a New York Jewish fundraising event bought in $500,000 towards President Obama’s reelection effort, the Obama campaign has released a new video touting the president’s support for Israel, and citing praise for the president from Israeli leaders.
Titled “America and Israel: An Unbreakable Bond,” the seven-minute web video intersperses Obama’s December 2011 speech to the Union of Reform Judaism’s biennial convention with clips of Israeli leaders praising the president.
Republican presidential have painted the president’ as insufficiently supportive of Israel in recent debates. The president’s campaign has struck back in recent days, both in public remarks made at the January 19 Jewish fundraiser and in the newly released video.
Both the president’s earlier remarks and the web video emphasize American military cooperation with Israel, and to America’s commitment to sanction’s against Iran. Both also point to public praise the president has received from the Israeli political and military leadership.
Click through to see a clip of the video
In what seems a pretty clear message to the world (“Hey, guys, we’re still the open democracy you thought we were”), Turkey has chosen a Jewish pop star, Can Bonomo, to represent it at this year’s Eurovision song contest May 22-26 in Baku, Azerbaijan. JTA’s Ron Kampeas reports that the choice has stirred some grumbling in the Turkish media and the singer mostly wants to avoid talking about his background. From what I can gather from Turkey’s English-language media (here, here and here, for example), the topic is being trod sort of delicately. There’s some debate over why a relative newbie (his first album came out a year ago) was chosen instead of a veteran. But the local music scene seems to be excited.
On the other hand, a quick Youtube search immediately turns up this clip showing a mainstream TV news interview with Bonomo and a bit of his music with some scary superimposed references to “Illuminati,” “Masonik” and “Yahudi.”
Bonomo lives in Istanbul and represents what’s being called “the Istanbul sound.” He claims the Kinks and the Beatles among his influences. He’s originally from Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna, famed in Jewish lore as the birthplace of another international Jewish rock star, the false messiah Shabbetai Zvi. According to Kampeas, he says his family came to Turkey 540 years ago, which would put it at 1472. I wonder if somebody didn’t accidentally add 20 years to what was more likely 520 years ago, or 1492.
His sound is distinctly Middle Eastern and very infectious. Here’s a clip:
At a fundraiser for Jewish supporters in Manhattan, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to military cooperation with Israel, and to the imposition of tough sanctions on Iran.
The 100-person gathering on January 19 at high-end Upper East Side restaurant Daniel raised upwards of half a million dollars, according to an estimate by Alan Solow, a former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and one of the event’s hosts.
“Since I’ve been in office, we have unequivocally said that Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” Obama told the audience, echoing remarks made at a November fundraiser with Jewish donors in New York. “Part of that has been to make sure that we’ve got the strongest military cooperation that we’ve ever had between our two nations. That’s not my opinion, by the way, that’s the Israeli government’s opinion.”
In an off-the-record question and answer session, Obama “made very clear that he’s serious about prohibiting Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Solow said. Though the president maintained that the hopes for achieving those ends are through sanctions, he said that the Iranians are aware that all options are on the table.
Event hosts included Marc Stanley, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, and Kirk Rudy, a real estate developer and a top Obama fundraiser.
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch was also among the event’s hosts. Koch and the president clashed briefly in the fall, when he called a special election for a Queens congressional seat a referendum on Obama’s policies on Israel. Koch warned that he would “campaign against [Obama] not only in New York, but in other parts of the country” if the president did not change his positions.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, throwing his support to Newt Gingrich.
Perry, who was trailing the rest of the Republican field in national and South Carolina polls, received less than 1% of the vote in the January 10 New Hampshire primary. But Perry did pull about 5% in South Carolina polls and, perhaps more importantly, was seen as dividing the social conservative vote that is steadfastly opposed to frontrunner Mitt Romney.
“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform this country,” Perry said.
Perry’s exit still leaves Republicans with two conservative alternatives to Romney: former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich was already closing in on Romney in South Carolina in several polls before Perry’s announcement and maintains a strong lead over. South Carolina’s primary is scheduled for Saturday, January 21.
“It’s helpful to Gingrich,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, of Perry’s decision. “Perry didn’t have much support, although I do think that in the last few debates Perry became sort of a more likeable, endearing figure, even if that didn’t translate into political support.”
In certain circles, the very name, Human Rights Watch, has become a profanity. There are those convinced that this is an organization set on attacking Israel unmercifully and disproportionately. Among these people is even Bob Bernstein who founded the group in the 1970s and recently left in protest to start Advancing Human Rights, which he says is a corrective to an organization that has lost its moral compass.
I won’t go in to the few mistakes HRW has made to bring this criticism down on its own head (remember the Nazi memorabilia collector who was working in their Middle East division?), but suffice it to say they have sometimes not made the job of their defenders easy.
Still, it does surprise me how compartmentalized the minds of their critics can be, such that they find it impossible to commend or acknowledge HRW when they do something evenhanded or that upsets the caricature of them as blindly pro-Palestinian.
Today, for example, the group issued a strongly worded press release directed at Hamas and the Palestinian Authority calling on them to investigate attacks against two Palestinian human rights workers. Here’s a summary of the two cases as presented by HRW: