Category Archive: Antisemitism

Anti-Semitism seen on the rise in Poland

University of Warsaw researchers discover sharp spike in negative attitudes, acceptance of hate speech toward Jews

Poland-Anti-Semitism_Horo-e1372833437144WARSAW — Poland has seen a rise in anti-Semitism over the last two years, partly fueled by Europe’s migrant crisis, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The University of Warsaw’s Center for Research on Prejudice found acceptance for anti-Semitic hate speech — especially among young Poles on the internet — rose from 2014 to 2016 compared to previous years.

Their study was based on a sample of 1,000 adults and 700 youths. The number of surveyed Poles who declared positive attitudes towards Jews dropped from 28 percent in 2015 to 23% in 2016.

Researchers attribute the increase to a spike in Islamophobia and anti-migrant sentiment triggered by Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II. Many of the migrants were from conflict-ridden countries like Syria and Libya.

Politicians in eastern EU states, notably Poland’s populist leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, were quick to raise the specter of Islamic State militants carrying out terror attacks once inside the bloc.

Very few refugees or migrants arrived in Poland after Kaczynski’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party refused them entry.

Yet, the Warsaw University researchers concluded that “fear of Muslims that arose between 2014 and 2016 has increased negative feelings towards Jews among people regardless of their age or political affiliation.”

The study found that 37% of those surveyed voiced negative attitudes towards Jews in 2016 compared to 32% the previous year.

Fifty-six percent said they would not accept a Jewish person in their family, an increase of nearly 10 points compared to 2014.

Nearly a third (32%) said they did not want Jewish neighbors, compared to 27% in 2014.

The Jewish community in Poland, with a population of 38 million, has fewer than 10,000 people.

Prior to the Holocaust, it boasted 3.3 million members, or around 10% of the Polish population. Up to 300,000 Polish Jews survived the war, but most then fled the country, many to Israel.

Around 11% of adults and 24% of younger Poles admitted to making occasional anti-Semitic remarks.

Source

New online generation takes up Holocaust denial

Conspiracy theorists are flocking to outlandish websites, warns lecturer

3000A new generation of Holocaust deniers is emerging through a clutch of popular “gateway” conspiracy theories, according to one of the UK’s leading experts on the subject.

As Denial, a film about the disgraced historian and notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, hits cinemas later this month, attention is focusing on the ageing generation of deniers who emerged with Irving at its vanguard and are now dying out. But it appears that Holocaust denial has found new momentum in the digital age.

The UK’s foremost academic on the subject claims a new internet-based generation is embracing denial, having been drawn to it out of antisemitism or a belief in conspiracy theories.

Dr Nicholas Terry, a history lecturer at Exeter University, estimates that there are now thousands of “low-commitment” Holocaust deniers online. Rather than recruiting from established far-right denial forums, they are attracting followers drawn to outlandish theories such as those surrounding the assassination of JFK, 9/11, the moon landing and the Sandy Hook school massacre.

“In one sense, the internet means Holocaust deniers have got a lot of competition,” Terry said. “On the other, in this more free-form world, deniers have been able to attract a certain minority from the world of conspiracy theories. There’s a sense of disorientation taking place when it comes to where people are getting their news from.

“This kind of free-for-all on the internet creates a milieu that has seen people who would normally identify along the left of the political spectrum gravitate towards ideas that are more at home on the far right.”

The release of Denial – which centres on the libel trial brought by Irving against the Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt – follows the controversy that erupted when it emerged Google’s algorithms were recommending antisemitic, white nationalist and Holocaust denier websites for searches of the question: “Did the Holocaust happen?” The film has already been attacked by the new generation of deniers on YouTube, Reddit and Twitter.

Terry, who has monitored Holocaust denial online for 10 years and is co-editing a forthcoming book, Holocaust and Genocide Denial: A Contextual Perspective, has personal experience of their tactics, having been trolled online. He founded the anti-denial blog, Holocaust Controversies, to “debunk” their claims.

He said that many claiming that the Holocaust did not happen were often less intellectual than the earlier generation of deniers. They were an “international crowd – lots of Americans, British, Scandinavians, and west Europeans, as well as some Brits” – who made little attempt to justify their views with facts, resulting in what Terry termed a “Twitterification” of denial.

Several of the new generation of deniers have become well known online. Eva Lion, a Canadian nationalist on the extreme right, was banned from YouTube having amassed tens of thousands of followers. Reality-TV star Tila Tequila was thrown off Celebrity Big Brother after it emerged she had posted messages defending Hitler, as well as antisemitic and white nationalist comments.

While the majority of new deniers are young and hail largely from the “alt-right”, a significant number are middle-aged or older, Terry said.

“What I’ve observed in the last 10 years is that, while the majority of deniers one encounters are still rightwing and Nazis, they are always peppered with a number of unaffiliated individuals who would consider themselves to be liberal or leftwing and have arrived at their position having been anti-Zionist or anti-Israel.”

Their attraction to Holocaust denial, Terry said, had coincided with an upsurge in antisemitism on the internet. Many drawn to such beliefs, he suggested, were vulnerable to lies being peddled as truth.

“They are people who have reached their 40s or 50s and have embraced the internet as it has grown and new platforms have come along. They have moved away from quality newspaper-reading mentality; maybe they’re professionals, some may have degrees, but they are not skilled in assessing sources in history. When you interact with them, you realise that they have no clue as to how we know anything about the past, about how history works, what information is available. They are willing to go along with certain ideas that are summarised for them and simplified in web articles or videos.”

He added: “Lipstadt said that arguing with a denier was like trying to nail jelly to a wall. I would say it’s now like trying to nail smoke to a wall. There’s almost no substance.”

Source

Obama names aide Ben Rhodes to Holocaust Memorial Council

White House messaging guru on Iran deal and abstention in UN anti-settlements resolution to help lead nation in Shoah remembrance

AP20499823408-e1484674576749WASHINGTON — With three days left in his presidency, Barack Obama made his final appointments to administration positions, including adding 10 members to the Holocaust Memorial Council.

Most notable on that list is Ben Rhodes, a long-time Obama aide and speechwriter who managed the White House messaging on selling the Iran deal and explaining the US decision to abstain on a United Nations Security Council resolution last month that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal.

Rhodes, whose official title is deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, was a source of controversy after a New York Times Magazine profile portrayed him as bragging about misrepresenting the nuclear accord to shape American public opinion.

In the article, Rhodes spoke of creating an “echo chamber” of nongovernmental organizations, nuclear proliferation experts and journalists to gain support for the deal, as well as portraying a false impression of Iran’s regime.

A former graduate student enrolled in New York University’s creative writing program, Rhodes decided to enter the realm of public policy after witnessing the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

After spending some time in the Washington think-tank world, he became a foreign policy speechwriter for candidate Obama in 2007 and remained a staffer in his White House for the entirety of his tenure.

Obama also deployed the 39-year-old spokesman as a media envoy to explain his administration’s decision to allow a resolution that called for an end to all settlement construction in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War.

Beyond a number of interviews with US broadcast media, Rhodes conducted a conference call with reporters moments after the motion passed, explaining that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately created the outcome of the vote with the policies he instituted.

“Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today,” said Rhodes, who has a Jewish mother and Episcopalian father.

After the Israeli premier and other high-level officials said they had “ironclad” evidence the United States drafted and lobbied on behalf of the measure, Rhodes took to the interview circuit to deny the charges.

In a particularly personal dig, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and former GOP activist, Ron Dermer, told multiple news outlets that Rhodes was an “expert in fiction,” presumably alluding to his unsuccessful aspirations to be a novelist.

Congress created the Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980 in order to fundraise for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The 68-member council meets twice a year and consists of 55 members appointed by the president. They serve five-year terms.

Obama also appointed First Lady Michelle Obama’s long-time speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz, to the council.

Source

‘German research institute trivializes Holocaust to attack Israel’

Max Planck Institute urged to cancel talk by academic Norman Finkelstein.

ShowImage (1)Israel’s embassy and leading deputies in the German parliament slammed a Max Planck Institute branch for stoking hatred of Israel and Jews with a series of lectures from a pro-Hezbollah US academic who trivialized the Holocaust and is popular among neo-Nazis.

“It is outrageous that a distinguished German institution [Max Planck Institute branch in Halle] gives a stage to someone who spreads, in the best case, science fiction, and in the worst, pure incitement against Israel. Supporting [Norman] Finkelstein to maintain his academic facade is highly dangerous and an abuse of the scientific standards,” the Israeli Embassy in Berlin told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Michaela Engelmeier, a Social Democratic deputy in the Bundestag, told the Post she was astonished that “with our history it is possible to welcome academics who play down the Nazi regime’s murder of six million Jews and present it as trivial.”

She added that the fact that the anti-Israel academic is delivering talks close to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 is “especially insensitive.”

She urged the Max Planck Institute to cancel next week’s Finkelstein lecture titled “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom.”

Engelmeier cited Finkelstein’s support of the US and EU-classified terrorist organization Hezbollah. “In the past, Finkelstein compared the antisemitic terrorist organization Hezbollah with the resistance against the National Socialists. He compared Israel’s approach with that of the Nazis. He termed, in his most important work, the remembrance of Auschwitz as the ‘Holocaust Industry.’” Finkelstein’s remarks place him in the “center of right-wing radical deniers of the Holocaust and make him criminally liable in Germany,” Engelmeier said.

Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy who is the chairman of the German-Israel Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, told the Post that the Max Planck Institute’s invitation to Finkelstein has nothing to do with “qualified academic expertise.” Finkelstein leveled “false contentions against the Jewish Claims Conference… he explained his solidarity with Hezbollah and considers Hamas a ‘peace offensive’ against Israel,” Beck said.

Beck said Finkelstein’s views are welcomed by “conspiracy theoreticians and neo-Nazis because Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors.”

He questioned what motivated the Max Planck Institute to invite the American to speak. “One cannot comprehend the invitation,” Beck said, adding that he could not understand why the institute would have anything to do with fomenting “antisemitic prejudices.”

The group Alliance against Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism along with an anti-fascist student organization from the University of Halle protested on Monday against Finkelstein’s first talk. There were 30-50 protesters.

The regional paper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the Max Planck Institute Halle is located, wrote that the institute’s media department was “surprised by the intense reactions.” The Max Planck Institute told the paper that Finkelstein is “a smart academic.”

Marie-Claire Foblets, the managing director of the department of law and anthropology at the Max Planck Institute, played a key role in organizing Finkelstein’s talks and has vigorously defended him. She told the Post it is absurd to call Finkelstein an antisemite.

Post emails to Dr. Martin Stratmann, the president of the Max Planck Institute, were not immediately returned.

The indifference to antisemitism at the Halle branch has raised eyebrows among monitors of modern antisemitism in Germany such as Dr. Efraim Zuroff from the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, because the Max Planck Institute played a role in advancing the Hitler movement’s lethal antisemitism.

Christina Beck, a spokeswoman for the Max Planck Institute, told the Post the institute “comprehensively rejects any accusations of antisemitism. In our research organization, there is no place for any form of hatred or agitation. The Max Planck Society maintains excellent relations with Israel and has been involved in German-Israeli research collaborative projects for several decades, in particular through the Minerva Foundation. As an independent research organization we also support diversity of opinion and freedom of science.”

The Halle Jewish community called the lectures a “disgrace” and refused to meet with Finkelstein. Foblets advocated a meeting between Halle’s Jewish community and the anti-Israel activists.

Engelmeier reminded the Max Planck Institute that many “artists, academics, social democrats, communists, journalist, and Sinti and Roma were victims of National Socialism. These Nazis’ murder of these victims was not disputed by Finkelstein, rather only the Jews, she said.

“Finkelstein blames Israel alone for the terrorism in the Middle East. With this position, he illustrates his passion to deny facts and to deny the terrorist attacks of the antisemitic organization Hamas, and equates Israel’s defensive measures with the annihilation of the Nazis,” she said.

Sebastian Striegel, a Green party deputy in the state government in Saxony-Anhalt, told the Post that “a public institution should not invite Finkelstein, because he relativizes the Holocaust.”

Source

Neo-Nazi blogger resigns over revelation his wife is Jewish

Mike Enoch was considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” movement.

ShowImageThe founder of the popular right-wing blog The Right Stuff resigned over the revelation that his wife is Jewish.

Mike Enoch, who also co-hosts “The Daily Shoah” weekly podcast, was outed over the weekend as Mike Peinovich, a website developer from New York. On the podcast, which has about 100,000 regular listeners, Peinovich as Enoch talked about killing Jews and spouted neo-Nazi invective.

The release of Peinovich’s personal details came after the identities of the other podcast panelists were made public earlier in the week by a rival website called 8chan. The invented surname reportedly is a reference to Enoch Powell, a far-right British politician.

Enoch was considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” movement along with Daily Stormer creator Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank. Spencer is a co-creator of the alt-right label, which describes a far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Peinovich came clean with readers of The Right Stuff, posting a message in a password-protected forum that was reprinted in part by Salon.

“As I am sure you all know, I was doxxed and an ill advised attempt to fool the media about my identity led me to not talk to you people and to try to simply ride it out by being silent,” he said. “This was irresponsible and a disservice to all of you. Yes my wife is who they say she is, I won’t even bother denying it, I won’t bother making excuses. If this makes you want to leave the movement, or to have nothing to do with TRS, then I understand.

“Don’t lie for me. Don’t try to defend me to those attacking me. Don’t jeopardize your own reputation by defending things that you don’t think you can. I could try to explain my whole life for the last ten years to you but what difference at this point would it make. Life isn’t perfect.”

The Right Stuff has popularized many right-wing memes, as well as the triple parentheses known as the echo symbol used by white supremacists and anti-Semites on Twitter to identify Jews.

Source

German Court Rules Synagogue Burning Is Merely Anti-Israel Criticism, Not Anti-Semitism

If attacking Europe’s Jews over the purported acts of Middle Eastern Jews isn’t the definition of historical anti-Semitism, what is?

As our intellectual and moral betters on the left have been informing us for the longest time, anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism. So it only stands to reason that when you burn down a synagogue in Germany, you may be doing it solely as an overly enthusiastic expression of disagreement with Israel’s policies.

This was the studious opinion of a court in Wuppertal, a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. As reported today in the Jerusalem Post, a lower Wuppertal court, hearing the case in 2015, found that three German Palestinians who had torched the local synagogue in July of 2014 did so to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” and had merely chosen Molotov Cocktails as their form of justified political speech. Last week, Wuppertal’s higher court affirmed the decision, declaring that the attack—that is, the burning of a synagogue approximately 2,700 miles away from the nearest Israeli town—was motivated not by anti-Semitism but simply by a strong but understandable distaste for the actions of some unruly Jews living in the Jewish state.

To most people, attacking European Jews over the alleged acts of completely different Jews in the Middle East is the textbook definition of historical European anti-Semitism. To the court, it was simply a rational if overly rambunctious policy critique. The perpetrators were given suspended sentences.

The last expression of similar anti-Israeli sentiment in Wuppertal occurred in 1938, when Nazis fueled by a passionate distaste for the conduct of Israel—the establishment of which was still ten years in the future—burned down the very same town’s synagogue.

Source

French candidate under fire for Holocaust comparison

Vincent Peillon, running in Socialist Party primaries ahead of elections, said Nazi persecution of Jews similar to situation of French Muslims today

Vincent_Peillon_Mutualité_11102-e1483584907819-635x357French Jews accused a left-wing presidential candidate of encouraging Holocaust denial following his comparison of the Nazi persecution of Jews to the situation of French Muslims today.

Vincent Peillon, who is running in the Socialist Party primaries ahead of the elections this year, made the analogy Tuesday during an interview aired by the France 2 television channel.

Peillon, a former education minister who has Jewish origins, was commenting on a question about France’s strict separation between state and religion, referred to in France as “laicite.”

“If some want to use laicite, as has been done in the past, against certain populations … Forty years ago it was the Jews who put on yellow stars. Today, some of our Muslim countrymen are often portrayed as radical Islamists. It is intolerable.”

In a statement Wednesday, CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, accused Peillon of making “statements that only serve those trying to rewrite history.”

Peillon neither retracted his remark nor apologized in a statement published Wednesday on his website, but said he would wanted to elaborate on what he meant in light of the controversy it provoked and to “refine my view, which may have been misrepresented because of brevity.”

Peillon wrote that he “clearly did not want to say that laicite was the origin of anti-Semitism of Vichy France,” which was the part of the country run by a pro-Nazi collaborationist government. He also wrote that “what the Jews experienced under Vichy should not be banalized in any way” and that he was committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism.

“I wanted to denounce the strategy of the far right, which always used the words of the French Republic or social issues to turn them against the population. It is doing so today with laicite against the Muslims,” Peillon wrote.

But in its statement condemning Peillon’s remark, CRIF wrote that the history concerning the deportation of more than 75,000 Jews from France to concentration camps and death and the looting of their property, “as well as discriminatory laws such as the one about wearing yellow stars, should not be instrumentalized to create a false equivalence of suffering.”

CRIF “demands a clarification and immediate correction on the part of Vincent Peillon,” it said.

Peillon, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, announced his candidacy in December to succeed President Francois Hollande as party leader and run as its candidate in April. He was appointed education minister in 2012 and served for two years.

In the Socialist primaries, Peillon will face Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has strong support in the Jewish community. Peillon’s mother, Françoise Blum, is Jewish.

Peillon, who rarely talks about his Jewish roots publicly, signed a petition by the left-wing Jcall group, the European counterpart to J Street, supporting Palestinian statehood.

In 2009, he celebrated the bar mitzvah of his son Elie at a Paris synagogue. He has another son, Isaac. Peillon is married to Nathalie Bensahel, a journalist who has written about France’s anti-Semitism problem.

Peillon opposed the ban last summer on women wearing the burkini, the full-body swimsuit favored by some Muslims, on public beaches. Valls supported the ban, citing what he said was its use by radical Muslims to oppress women.

Source

Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is German bestseller, again

First reprint of Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto since WWII sells 85,000 copies in year, topping nonfiction list

000_jk1ti-635x357BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The first reprint of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany since World War II has proved a surprise bestseller, heading for its sixth print run, its publisher said Tuesday.

The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IfZ) said around 85,000 copies of the new annotated version of the Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto had flown off the shelves since its release last January.

The respected institute said that far from promoting far-right ideology, the publication had enriched a debate on the renewed rise of “authoritarian political views” in contemporary Western society.

It had initially planned to print only 4,000 copies but boosted production immediately based on intense demand. The sixth print run will hit bookstores in late January.

The two-volume work had figured on the non-fiction bestseller list in weekly magazine Der Spiegel over much of the last year, and even topped the list for two weeks in April.

The institute also organized a series of presentations and debates around “Mein Kampf” across Germany and in other European cities, which it said allowed it to measure the impact of the new edition.

“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” IfZ director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement.

“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground.”

‘Not reactionaries or radicals’

The institute said the data collected about buyers by regional bookstores showed that they tended to be “customers interested in politics and history as well as educators” and not “reactionaries or rightwing radicals.”

Nevertheless, the IfZ said it would maintain a restrictive policy on international rights. For now, only English and French editions are planned despite strong interest from many countries.

The institute released the annotated version of “Mein Kampf” last January, just days after the copyright of the manifesto expired.

Bavaria was handed the rights to the book in 1945 when the Allies gave it control of the main Nazi publishing house following Hitler’s defeat.

For 70 years, it refused to allow the inflammatory tract to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But “Mein Kampf” — which means “My Struggle” — fell into the public domain on January 1 and the institute said it feared a version without critical commentary could hit the market.

Partly autobiographical, “Mein Kampf” outlines Hitler’s ideology that formed the basis for Nazism. He wrote it in 1924 while he was imprisoned in Bavaria for treason after his failed Beer Hall Putsch.

The book set out two ideas that he put into practice as Germany’s leader going into World War II: annexing neighboring countries to gain Lebensraum, or “living space,” for Germans, and his hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust.

Some 12.4 million copies were published in Germany and from 1936, the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.

Source