Billy Joel (Kike) wears yellow Star of David during concert encore

Billy Joel

(JTA) — Billy Joel wore a yellow Star of David on his sports jacket during the encore of his monthly concert at Madison Square Garden.

Photos of the legendary singer wearing the star began appearing on Facebook shortly after his performance Monday night. At least one tweet bore the hashtag #Charlottesville. Others called Joel “a true hero,” and his decision to wear the star “Epic and brave.” One tweet read: “So dope seeing Billy Joel live and seeing him take a stand to the hate in our country. Wearing the star of david is a huge statement.”

Other tweets, however, took issue with Joel’s statement.

“What is Billy Joel protesting? A president with part Jewish kids? The fact that Muslim immigrants in the US tend to be anti-semitic? WHAT!?” The tweet was in response to another that said, “Ok, so Billy Joel has lost his mind.”

Joel’s parents are Jewish but he was not brought up with the faith. He has been described as a secular Jew and an atheist.

At the concert, Joel invited singer Patty Smyth on stage to sing her hit song ““Goodbye to You” with him while a screen behind them flashed pictures of fired White House staffers including chief strategist Stephen Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer and communications adviser Anthony Scaramucci.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Billy Joel doing is encores at MSG on 8/21 wearing one Jewish Star on his breast and another on his back. He is a true hero.

Ok, so Billy Joel has lost his mind. pic.twitter.com/hpxt2ps9r7

What is Billy Joel protesting? A president with part Jewish kids? The fact that Muslim immigrants in the US tend to be anti-semitic? WHAT!?

Billy Joel and patti smythe play “goodbye to you,” showing photos of trump staffers

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Trump threatens shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rally

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-holds-campaign-style-rally-amid-large-protests-in-arizona/2017/08/22/dd7c83c0-8796-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?utm_term=.a98d875ebb57

 

 President Trump on Tuesday threatened to shut down the government over border wall funding, said the North American Free Trade Agreement is likely to be terminated and signaled that he was prepared to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is anathema to the Latino community.

Trump’s freewheeling comments came during a boisterous campaign rally here during which he also went on an extended diatribe about the media, blaming reporters for the negative fallout he has received over his responses to the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville.

Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. A major Trump supporter during last year’s campaign, he awaits sentencing.

“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked the crowd. “You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, okay? But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”

Trump last week told Fox News that he was “seriously considering’’ a pardon for Arpaio and said he might do it soon, sparking speculation he would use Tuesday’s campaign rally here to make the move.

In a speech that stretched well over an hour, Trump also expressed frustration with efforts to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to improve NAFTA, saying he was more likely to terminate the deal. He also blamed “obstructionist Democrats” for standing in the way of funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and suggested a government shutdown might be needed to force their hand. And Trump called for ending the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes for many issues in the U.S. Senate, a move that Republican leaders have refused to embrace.

At the outset of the rally, Trump selectively recounted the series of statements he made in the days following the melee in Charlottesville, arguing that he “spoke out forcefully against hatred and bigotry and violence” but that the media — whom he called “sick people” — refused to report it properly.

“You know where my heart is,” Trump said, before pulling a copy of his first of three statements on the violence out of his suit coat and reading it to his audience. He later accused the media of giving a platform to the hate groups that were central to the violence in Charlottesville that led to three deaths.

Following his comments last week, Trump was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for blaming “both sides” for the violence and saying that “fine people” had marched along with white supremacists to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. He did not mention either of those remarks Tuesday.

The rally, organized by Trump’s reelection campaign, came as the president continues to face criticism for his response to Charlottesville and feuds with fellow Republicans in Congress whose cooperation he will need to kick-start his sputtering legislative agenda next month.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) had urged Trump to not come to his city this week, saying that it was too tense of a time in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters and that Trump could be setting the stage for more violent strife here. He also said that a pardon of Arpaio could make the situation even more dire.

Inside a partially filled Phoenix Convention Center, Trump was given a hero’s welcome from supporters who chanted “USA! USA! USA!” and waved signs reading “Drain the Swamp,” “Make America Strong Again” and “Make America Proud Again.”

“You were there from the start, you’ve been there every day since, and believe me, Arizona, I will never forget it,” Trump said at the start of his remarks, referencing a large crowd he drew at the site early in his campaign. His crowd Tuesday night numbered in the thousands but did not completely fill the hall at the convention center.

Before his arrival, Trump traveled to Yuma, where he received a closed briefing on border protection — something he touts as being among his administration’s successes — and greeted Marines and their families, signing a couple of autographs on camouflage hats.

Trump was greeted at the airport by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who was not expected to attend the rally. Nor were the state’s two Republican senators, with whom Trump has been openly sparring.

There was a heavy police presence in downtown Phoenix, with law enforcement seeking to maintain civility between Trump supporters and detractors. Authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters after the rally ended.

About an hour before Trump was scheduled to arrive, hundreds of protesters gathered across the street, shouting, “This is what democracy looks like!” Metal barricades divided them from the red-capped people streaming into the rally, some grinning and waving.

A police officer wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest could not say how many people had come to demonstrate against the president’s visit. “A lot,” he offered.

Uzma Jafri, a 40-year-old doctor from Phoenix, walked through the crowds of Trump supporters and protesters with a backpack of medical supplies. She said she came here to quickly treat anyone if violence broke out.

“My ethical background, and my moral background, is to assist anyone who needs it — regardless of if they hate me,” said Jafri, who poured a bottle of water over her black hijab in the 107-degree heat.

Brian Ratchford came to the event armed with a .357-caliber gun to defend Trump supporters if things got out of hand

“He’s an American for Americans,” said Ratchford, 47, of Tucson. What Trump said after Charlottesville “was perfect — people on both sides were causing the problems,” said Ratchford, who had been outside the convention center since 10 a.m.

Tuesday night’s event was part of a familiar pattern for Trump.

When he finds himself under attack or slipping in popularity, he often holds a rally in a place like this: a diverse blue city that’s home to liberal protesters but surrounded by red suburbs and rural towns filled with Trump supporters who will turn out in droves.

It happened in the first weeks of his presidential campaign, when he was dismissed as a sideshow and criticized for his comments on undocumented immigrants — only to be greeted by thousands of fans, along with protesters, at a rally at the convention center.

Then in March 2016, when Trump grew frustrated that he still had not become the presumptive Republican nominee, he planned a massive rally in inner-city Chicago that attracted thousands of supporters but was canceled at the last minute because of the high number of protesters. This March, when his presidency seemed constantly under attack, Trump held a rally in Nashville that attracted at least 2,500 protesters.

Unlike rallies in states that are solidly Republican, these events allow Trump to highlight the deep division in the country — and force voters to pick a side.

In Phoenix, campaign organizers expected more than 10,000 supporters to show up at the convention center on Tuesday night, and numerous counterprotests were planned for outside the rally. Local activists said they hoped to outnumber the rally­goers, sending a clear message to the president after the Charlottesville rally this month that attracted neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

“By coming here in a time of national crisis and a national question of where people stand, he is doubling down on his bigotry, continuing to race-bait and speak to his base,” said Carlos García, executive director of Puente Arizona, which advocates for migrants.

Phoenix is home to some of the most organized progressive activists in the country, and they have provided a much-studied example of how to fight at a grass-roots level to challenge lawmakers and change policies that target undocumented immigrants. The Phoenix area gave liberals one of their few victories last November: The ouster of Arpaio, the longtime Maricopa County sheriff, who was accused of encouraging his deputies to employ racial profiling and enforce federal immigration laws in the Phoenix suburbs.

In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in Arizona for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5, and he faces up to six months in prison.

Last week, Trump told Fox News the former sheriff is a “great American patriot” who has “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.” Arpaio told CNN that he had not been invited to attend the Tuesday night rally.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters traveling with the president Tuesday that Trump was not planning to announce a pardon for Arpaio at the rally.

“There will be no discussion of that today at any point, and no action will be taken on that front at any point today,” she said.

A pardon — whenever it might come — would be likely to ignite the anger of hundreds of activists who spent more than a decade peacefully pushing for change through traditional channels, as well as the voters who chose not to reelect him.

“A pardon for Joe Arpaio is a pardon for white supremacy,” Jess O’Connell, chief executive of the Democratic National Committee, said at a news conference here Monday.

Early Tuesday morning, local authorities closed streets near the convention center and installed barricades along the sidewalks aimed at keeping protesters separated from rallygoers.Many businesses and government buildings downtown closed early.

In the hours before the rally, as Trump supporters lined up outside the convention site, a police officer on his motorcycle drove by, repeatedly offering this instruction: “Folks, please drink water. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late.”

Protest organizers said one challenge would be managing the hundreds of people not affiliated with their groups who showed up wanting to make a statement. Organizers and local lawmakers were urging a peaceful demonstration.

However, there were clashes after the rally, and police eventually used smoke canisters to disperse the crowds. No injuries were immediately reported.

While Democrats and immigration rights activists have been holding news conferences and speaking out against the president this week, Republicans have been quiet. No one answered the phone at the Arizona GOP offices on Monday or Tuesday.

Arizona’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, have at times been critical of the president. Trump has tweeted praise of Kelli Ward, a former state lawmaker with far-right views and a long-shot Senate candidate who is challenging Flake.

In the hours leading up to the rally, a few dozen Ward supporters were out on the streets wearing yellow T-shirts reading “TRUMP 2016/WARD 2018” on the front and “MAKE ARIZONA GREAT AGAIN” on the back.

This was Trump’s ninth rally in the state — and his fourth at the Phoenix Convention Center.

His first event at the convention center was on July 11, 2015, a few weeks after he announced he was running for president and gave a rambling speech that cast undocumented immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

Although those remarks prompted criticism and led several corporations to cut their business ties with him, the support for his campaign was evident in Phoenix, where he had to upgrade to a larger venue and then still had to turn away many supporters — a showing that shocked many Arizonans.

Lourdes Medrano in Phoenix and Philip Rucker in Washington contributed to this report.

Study: Benefits of close friendship in high school last for years

WASHINGTON — Developing close friendships during high school can help teens to maintain happy, healthy lives well into adulthood, according to researchers from the University of Virginia.

“As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority,” said study co-author Joseph Allen, a psychology professor at Virginia, in a statement.

The study also found that teens who were popular among their peers experienced more social anxiety as young adults.

Researchers followed 169 teens over a period of 10 years — starting when they were 15 until the age of 25.

Researchers found that teens with close friendships at the age of 15 experienced less social anxiety, an increased sense of self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression by the time they reached 25 compared to popular teens. The researchers found that having strong friendships support positive feelings at a point when teens begin to develop their sense of identity and that these teens also expect healthy and supportive friendships in the future.

“Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later,” Allen said.

The study results were published in the journal Child Development. The Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health funded the study.

High doses of vitamin B tied to lung cancer risk, study says

(CNN) Men who took high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements had a higher risk of lung cancer, and the association was highest among current smokers, according to a study published Tuesday.

The study found a 30% to 40% increased risk of lung cancer among men taking these vitamins from individual supplements — not from multivitamins or diet alone. But the effect seemed to be driven by current smokers who far exceeded the recommended daily amounts of the vitamins, according to study author Theodore Brasky, an epidemiologist in the division of cancer prevention and control at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
“I think these results point to a synergism” between high-dose B vitamins, smoking and lung cancer risk among men, Brasky said.
Current male smokers taking the highest levels of vitamin B6 had triple the risk of lung cancer over six years, compared with those who didn’t take supplements. For vitamin B12, that risk nearly quadrupled. These levels were more than 11 times the recommended daily amount of B6 and 23 times that of B12.
“If you look at B-vitamin supplement bottles … they are anywhere between 50-fold the US recommended dietary allowance (to) upward of 2,100-fold,” Brasky said. B12 injections have also become “in vogue” in recent years, he said.
In smaller quantities, these vitamins are involved in several vital processes in the body, including DNA replication. But many high-dose supplements, he said, claim to boost energy and provide other unproven benefits.
“That’s marketing. That’s not science,” he said.
The study was limited to roughly 77,000 Washington state adults, ages 50 to 76. This included 139 cases of lung cancer among more than 3,200 current male smokers. Over 93% of participants were white.
There were too few cases of lung cancer among nonsmokers to include them in the full analysis. An increased risk of lung cancer was not seen among women or with the vitamin B9, also known as folate.
Other researchers have found different results. Some studies linked vitamin B6 with lower lung cancer risk, and another found that B12 had no impact on risk. The authors of the new study said that the discrepancy could be because some of these studies measure B vitamins in the blood and not through dietary surveys, like they did. Or it may be that lung cancer itself raises levels of these vitamins in the body.
“I think it’s hard to say” why these studies contradict each other, said Elizabeth Kantor, an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who has studied dietary supplements and cancer risk. She was not involved in the latest research. “Is it the disease process that affects the blood levels? I think that the door remains open on that.”
A focus on B vitamins may not be the most effective way to protect against lung cancer, experts warn.
“Combustible tobacco smoke is the No. 1 most important factor, not just only in lung cancer but in many cancers,” Brasky said.
Cigarette smoking is a factor in 80% to 90% of lung cancers in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from it than nonsmokers. Lung cancer kills more Americans than any other kind of cancer.
“When we’re talking about what to be concerned about most: If you’re a male smoker and you want to take B vitamins, you can stop smoking,” Brasky said.
“Smoking is the most important thing here, and that’s preventable.”

To B or not to B?

“In the average person in this country, it’s tough to be deficient” in B vitamins, Brasky said.
Those who are — those with anemia or celiac disease, for example — will feel tired and run down. For them, supplements might help.
But taking “megadoses” of these supplements doesn’t do much for the average healthy person, Brasky said, nor does it cause immediate harm. The body tends to get rid of excess vitamin, he said.
“There’s always this black box between what people say they eat or take and what is actually absorbed,” said Regan Bailey, an associate professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and a former nutritional epidemiologist with the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.She also was not involved in the new study.
Stomach acid and digestion, Bailey said, are able to “rip out” B12 from food so that the body can absorb it. Some synthetic supplements, however, may be more easily absorbed.
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products like meat, eggs and milk. Americans get most of their B6 from fortified cereals, beef, chicken, fruits and starchy vegetables.
Too little of these vitamins is thought to carry cancer risk, too. Errors can happen when building new strands of DNA, causing them to break. And genes responsible for cell division may be thrown off by these changes, the study authors said.
In high concentrations, however, the exact relationship between the vitamins and lung cancer is unclear. If the vitamins are indeed responsible for increasing the lung cancer risk, Brasky said, another question would be whether B vitamins are hastening the development of a lung cancer that’s already there or leading to new cancers.
Bailey warned that we are nowhere close to claiming that these high-dose supplements cause cancer. She added that the dietary survey the researchers used — which calculated the average daily intake over the prior 10 years — can be imprecise. But Brasky said that adults generally recall which supplements they’ve taken, allowing researchers to get a good idea of their average doses.
People mostly take dietary supplements because they think they will make them healthier, not because they are trying to add nutrients to their diet, Bailey showed in a 2013 study. And those who take vitamins may be hard to study, she said, because they fall into two very different categories.
“In my mind, people take supplements because they’re sick and trying to get better or because they’re healthy and want to stay that way,” she said.
In a study in October, Kantor showed that about half of American adults have consistently taken dietary supplements over the years. The use of B12 grew 40% from 1999 to 2012, while the use of B6 dropped by a smaller amount.
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“There might be one reason why somebody takes something, but it can have other effects on our bodies,” Kantor said. “We don’t know the whole host of effects.”
The good news, Bailey said, is that most people aren’t taking the single-vitamin, high-dose supplements that go far beyond recommended levels.
“Most people are taking multivitamins,” she said, “and for that, there’s really been no (cancer) association, which I think is a success story.”

Protests turn unruly after Trump’s Phoenix speech

PHOENIX — A day of noisy but largely peaceful protests of President Donald Trump’s speech in Phoenix turned unruly as police fired pepper spray at crowds after someone apparently lobbed rocks and bottles at officers.

A cloudy haze enveloped the night sky Tuesday outside the convention center where Trump had just wrapped up his speech as protesters and police clashed. People fled the scene coughing as the disturbance unfolded.

“People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police. They also dispersed some gas in the area,” Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said, adding that officers responded with pepper spray to “disperse the crowd.”

Minor scuffles and shouting matches erupted earlier between protesters and Trump’s supporters on Tuesday with authorities on high alert as thousands of people lined up in the triple-digit heat to attend his first political rally since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Phoenix police kept most members of the two opposing groups behind barricades and apart on separate sides of the street. As a police helicopter hovered overhead, officers wearing riot gear and carrying rifles sauntered through the lane between the sides.

Local authorities were vigilant in the aftermath of the deadly protests in Virginia and the president’s comments last week about both sides having blame for violence at the white supremacist rally. Mayor Greg Stanton had unsuccessfully called on the president to not hold the rally here so soon after the trouble in Charlottesville.

“Toxic Trump,” read one protest sign held up to the president’s supporters streaming into the Phoenix Convention Center downtown. “Lock Him Up!” read another, a reference to earlier campaign chants by Trump and his backers about his election rival Hillary Clinton.

Dillon Scott of Phoenix, who voted for Clinton, said he came out to express dissatisfaction with how long Trump took to denounce racism after the Charlottesville violence.

“No one should be allowed to get away with what he gets away with, especially in political office,” Scott said.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters chanted, “Wrong side of history! Wrong side of history!”

Trump backer Randy Hutson, a retired Phoenix police officer, began standing in line more than seven hours before the speech was to start. “He is the first president I feel in my lifetime that speaks his mind and speaks from the heart,” Hutson said. “He says what needs to be said.”

A number of opposition signs showed drawings or photos of Trump with a small, Hitler-style mustache. Three Trump supporters taunted Latino protesters with offensive comments about immigrants and held anti-Muslim and Black Lives Matter signs.

As the line to get in the venue moved ahead, the two groups shouted at each other and some skirmishes broke out. At one point, a Trump supporter and protester shoved each other.

John Brown, of an anti-Trump group calling itself the Redneck Revolt, wore military fatigues and had an AK-47 rifle strapped to his chest as he and a half dozen others from the group stood about 30 feet behind the barricade for protesters. He said they were there to protect Trump opponents and stand up to fascism. “He’s offensive to me in every way,” Brown said.

The outdoor temperature remained over 100 degrees as the rally began.

Capt. Rob McDade, spokesman for Phoenix Fire Department, says that as of 6 p.m. they had treated 48 people for heat-related problems, most of them for dehydration. He said that of those, two were adult women were taken to a hospital for further evaluation.

State Democratic leaders urged people who wanted to show their opposition to the president’s policies to gather at a city-designated free speech zone near the site of the rally.

The message to protesters echoed those coming from law enforcement and Stanton. Stanton said he expects protesters to be “civil, respectful and peaceful.” Police Chief Jeri Williams says First Amendment rights will be supported but criminal conduct will be swiftly addressed.

But some of Trump’s supporters were so keen to see the president that they began queuing up before dawn for the 7 p.m. rally.

“It’s been on a bucket list of mine, since he became the president,” said Kingman resident Diane Treon, who arrived at 4 a.m. “I wished I had attended one of his campaign rallies before he became president and I wanted to go to the inauguration. And truthfully it was the protests that kept me away.”

Treon said she wishes protesters “would be a little more peaceful instead of violently rioting, which is happening in so many places” but isn’t overly worried.

Stephen Bannon reportedly ‘going to war’ against Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner

(JTA) — Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon reportedly is “going to war” against several White House targets, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to reports.

report Sunday evening in Vanity Fair titled “Steve Bannon Readies His Revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear,” said that Bannon’s targets in the West Wing are the “globalists,” identified as Ivanka Trump, Kushner and former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser to Trump and director of the National Economic Council, as well as the “hawks,” identified as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell.

The magazine cited Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow as saying that Bannon “wants to beat their ideas into submission. Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.”  

Bannon has returned to head the right-wing website Breitbart News after being removed from his White House post on Friday, nearly a week after he welcomed President Donald Trump’s divisive comments on a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He had left Breitbart to join the Trump campaign last year.

An unnamed Bannon ally told Vanity Fair that the former White House strategist called Kushner, an adviser to the president as well as his son-in-law, “a dope,” and that the two clashed fiercely on personnel decisions and policy debates, both domestic and international, many of which Bannon lost.

Unnamed Bannon allies told the magazine that Bannon had lobbied the president “aggressively” to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a move that they say was blocked by Kushner. The report also noted that Bannon stayed away during a May visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, texting to a friend that “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist.”

On Sunday, the Breitbart website’s lead story was headlined “Report: Ivanka Trump Helped Push Steve Bannon Out Of The White House,” based on a Daily Mail report that said “Trump’s daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his ‘far-right views’ clashing with her Jewish faith.”

Breitbart updated the article to say “A senior White House aide informed Breitbart News that the Daily Mail report was ‘totally false’ and called into question the sources in the article of having any real knowledge of the Trump family.”

Bannon had been under fire since he began working for the Trump campaign. He has been criticized for calling Breitbart News a platform for the “alt-right,” a far-right and white nationalist movement that includes anti-Semitic figures and followers. Bannon has denied he is anti-Semitic, and supporters point out that Breitbart is pro-Israel.

Paul Ryan rejects constituent rabbi’s plea to censure Trump

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Responding to a local rabbi at a town hall, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Donald Trump “messed up” in his Charlottesville comments but dismissed a bid by Democrats to censure the president as a “partisan hack-fest.”

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, fielded the question by Rabbi Dena Feingold, a constituent in his district, at a town hall in Racine televised Monday on CNN.

Feingold, of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, began by noting that her family and Ryan’s had been friendly for decades. (Feingold’s brother Russ is a former Democratic senator from the state.)

“Given our shared upbringing, I’m sure that you are as shocked as I am at the brazen expressions, public expressions of white supremacy and anti-Semitism that our country has seen since the November election,” Feingold said.

“And our synagogue in Kenosha has had to have extra security hired and we’ve asked the Kenosha Police Department to help us out so that people can feel comfortable coming to our synagogue to gather,” she said. “And so following up on what’s been asked already, Speaker Ryan, as the leader of the congressional Republicans, I’d like to ask you what concrete steps that you will take to hold the president accountable when his words and executive actions either implicitly or explicitly condone, if not champion, racism and xenophobia. For example, will you support the resolution for censure?”

She was referring to a motion introduced last week by 75 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives — led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who is Jewish — that censures Trump for his “inadequate” response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a far-right rally earlier this month. Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist protesters clashed there with counterprotesters, and a counterprotester was killed when an alleged white supremacist rammed a crowd with his car.

Trump said afterward that “many sides” were to blame for the violence, and there were some “very fine people” on both sides.

Ryan said at the town hall that Trump had “messed up” in his responses, but the congressman also praised the president for a separate address delivered just before the town hall started in which he called for unity. His reply to Feingold was acerbic.

“I just disagree with you,” Ryan said. “I will not support that. I think that would be — that would be so counterproductive. If we descend this issue into some partisan hack-fest, into some bickering against each other, and demean it down to some political food fight, what good does that do to unify this country?”

The moderator, Jake Tapper, pursued the issue, noting the fears in the district among Jews and among Sikhs, who were the targets of a lethal 2010 racist attack. The CNN newsman argued that the concerns about heightened racial tensions were not necessarily partisan.

“Forget his party for a second,” Tapper said. Trump is “giving aid and comfort to people who are fans of losing, discredited, hateful ideologies. ”

Ryan hesitated in his reply, but ultimately stood his ground.

“It is very, very important that we not make this a partisan food fight,” he said. “It is very important that we unify in condemning this kind of violence, in condemning this kind of hatred. And to make this us against them, Republicans against Democrats, pro-Trump, anti-Trump, that is a big mistake for our country, and that will demean the value of this important issue.”

Of Trump, Ryan said, “He needs to do better.”

The authors of the censure motion pushed back on Tuesday, saying in a statement that Ryan was shying away from moral accountability.

“In the wake of Charlottesville, Democrats and Republicans alike have been moved to reject the president’s ambivalent and wholly inadequate response to acts of domestic terrorism.” said a statement from Nadler’s office. “Many have gone so far as to condemn any attempt to project a moral equivalency between white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, and those who gathered to protest against the ‘Unite the Right’ rally and the racist ideals it represents. Yet Speaker Ryan remains silent, and continues to omit calling out the President directly for his morally repugnant statements.”

BILL O’REILLY (WHITE IDIOT, WHITE FREEMASON, ZIONIST): TRUMP DOESN’T UNDERSTAND TRUE HORRORS OF THE THIRD REICH (LOL….)

 

Bill O’Reilly, former Fox News pundit and best-selling author, thinks that US President Trump doesn’t know enough about the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazism.

In an opinion piece published on The Hill, O’Reilly said that this lack of historical knowledge is at the heart of what happened in the aftermath of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump said during an August 15 news conference. “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent and nobody wants to say that but I will say it right now.”

For Bill O’Reilly, this response was a mistake and shows that the US president doesn’t understand the full scope of Nazi horror.

“No other discussion can take place when Nazis are being analyzed,” O’Reilly said. “Mr. Trump saw violence by some counter-protesters and pointed it out. But when a young woman is killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer, that point must wait to be made.”

While there are certainly good people who want to keep the Robert E. Lee statue, the “proximity of white supremacists to the situation obscures the point,” O’Reilly continued.

However, he did not think Trump’s mistake was malicious, nor should he be branded as a Nazi sympathizer, saying that “truth is always the first casualty of hysteria.”

And Trump is far from the only history-challenged person according to O’Reilly.

“I can tell you with certainty that most people on this planet have no clue as to how German Nazis went about their lethal business. And that includes President Trump and many other politicians both present and past,” O’Reilly wrote.

He lamented that the Second World War was hardly taught in US schools and that Hitler had become a “caricature of evil, a distant monster” when he should be taught as something real and vivid.

“Mass murder was carried out by ordinary Germans while the vast majority of that population looked away out of self-interest and fear,” he stated. “These people weren’t from another planet.”

“The crimes of Hitler’s regime and the population that allowed it were so terrible that words cannot come close to description. Yet words are all we have.”

If we were taught more in-depth about the horrors of Nazism and the crimes of the Third Reich, O’Reilly concluded, Americans would have been united against hate after Charlottesville, not divided by politics.

THE SECRET TO A STRONG EDUCATION SYSTEM – ITS TEACHERS

 

Teachers are the key to unlocking the potential of our education system; the rest is just details. This was the dominant theme at the first annual Education Now conference held Tuesday at Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono.

The conference brought together a meeting of the minds to deal with current issues facing educators and students.

Headlining the conference was former education minister Gideon Sa’ar. He opened the conference by declaring that the starting monthly salary for teachers must be raised to NIS 8,000, which was met with enthusiastic applause.

“Education is the true security. Excellent education at all levels, from kindergarten all the way to university will ensure the country’s future,” he said, sharing his vision of how he would improve the education system, starting with how teachers are recruited and trained.

President Reuven Rivlin addressed the polarization in society, noting that “already half of Israeli society does not serve in the IDF, and we must educate those who will be our leaders in the coming decades.

“The price that society pays is felt more now than ever before – not only in the classrooms but also in the public discourse that often feeds on the mutual hesitation, we feel it in the soccer stadiums and the television studios. It is clear that schools play a significant role in this mission, and an education system that does not undertake creating a common infrastructure will not perform its function to the end – regardless of how advanced or excellent it is,” the president concluded.

The conference speakers emphasized that better teachers is the most important step in ensuring a stronger education.

Suggesting tactics such as recruiting teachers more effectively, the idea of making teaching an “exclusive” field and teaching them how to be inclusive, was some of the points reiterated throughout the day.

Andreas Schleicher, educational branch department head for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, addressed the audience by video stressing the importance of the teacher in the 21st century: “It’s not about looking at the administration it’s about looking at the teachers so that every student benefits from learning.”

He said that on a global level, today’s teachers are met with greater challenges and need to be prepared for “jobs that don’t exist yet and solve problems that haven’t happened yet.”

His vision of an ideal teacher is for he or she to be “lifelong learners. They must be passionate and compassionate and thoughtful enough to ensure that all students feel valued and included.”

The list of demands sounds almost too good to be true, recognizing this, he concluded: “Make it financially attractive, that’s pretty straightforward, but to make it intellectually attractive, that is the challenge.”

Dalit Stauber, former director- general of Education Ministry and current strategic consultant for the Academic Faculty at Ono Academic College, told The Jerusalem Post the institution is “teaching thousands of people education and many are going into the system and it’s a very important thing to demonstrate that this is an important strategic issue.”

In one of the panel discussion titled “How to Change the Classroom,” high school teacher Hadas Leor Osher from Petah Tikva emphasized her desire to strive for the “gold standard.”

Alluding to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, she stressed the urgency of having her own classroom, a place where she can engage her students, for her lessons to come alive, a place for inspiration and access to digital information. “I love teaching, I love my students and I need the tools and the resources to be the best so that i can give the best.”

Osher also felt that teachers need to become an integral part of pedagogical decisions and “not treated as if they are peons nor as a vessel to pass information from the administration to the students.”

She then told the Post that “there’s a huge gap between dream and the conditions to fulfill this dream.”

Another point stressed throughout the conference was that “the future is now.”

With many speakers sharing their vision for the future of Israeli education, Zvika Peleg, Sci-Tech Schools director-general, shared his vision of an 11-year matriculation, which will be piloted this upcoming school year in selected high schools.

Sa’ar, who wholeheartedly supports this advancement explained to the Post: Israelis enter the workforce at later ages than in other countries, “and this affects our time at work and our pension savings and now we are about to hit a huge pension crisis because” people are living longer.

He believes that better education will create conditions for moving into the workforce earlier, adding that “it’s a good idea to consider improving this before it gets worse.”

ON BIRTHRIGHT, RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS BOND OVER JEWISH IDENTITY

 

As the war in Donbass that began more than three years ago continues, Russia-Ukraine tensions remain high; but citizens of both countries who are on Birthright Israel tours focus instead on the Jewish heritage that unites them.

Of the 3,100 Russian-speaking Birthright participants who visited Israel this summer, 800 were Ukrainian and 1,800 were Russian.

David Pevzner, 19, is from Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Pevzner studies medicine in Krasnodar, Russia, and is touring Israel as part of a Birthright group for medical students and doctors. The 40 participants are a 50/50 mix of Ukrainians and Russians.

“There is no problem – hakol beseder,” Pevzner tells the The Jerusalem Post on Sunday night, speaking in English but using the Hebrew words to say “everything is okay.”

For Pevzner, the opportunity to meet other Jews, not only from Russia and Ukraine, but from all over the world, is an overwhelmingly positive one. He is talking to the Post at an event held at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, put on by Taglit-Birthright Israel and Genesis Philanthropy Group, for 900 Russian-speaking Birthright Israel participants.

“No matter where we come from we are all Jews and this is the most important thing. We communicate with people from around the world,” he says, pointing to participants he has met from countries such as Germany, France and the US.

“It’s very interesting to communicate with people both from other societies and other countries.

“This is a special experience for me and I think this trip will influence me in a good way. I think it helps me understand who I am and will make me move to Israel more quickly,” he adds.

Several of the participants who spoke with the Post expressed an interest in moving to Israel, one of the effects of the organization’s mission to create and foster ties to Israel and the Jewish people, though it does not expressly promote immigration to the country.

These goals are important to Pevzner, too, who has always been actively involved in Jewish life in Crimea, with organizations such as Netzer, Hillel, Tzofim and also in ulpan. “I think we should help to create Jewish community to teach young Jewish members of society and to get results,” he says earnestly.

Maxime Gonik, from Volgograd, Russia, has never been affiliated with any Jewish community.

He has experienced some prejudice about his Jewish identity in his hometown, but brushes it off as jokes coming from people who “have prejudice about everyone. I just ignore them.”

“I think Taglit is a very good experience to feel part of the Jewish nation,” he adds, saying that when he leaves he expects to feel more confident in his Jewish identity. “I feel more Jewish than Russian and I will seek to learn more about my Jewishness when I am home.

“For me, the Jewish community is really interesting because I don’t think any other nation has such a close community. If you say you are Jewish it binds nationalities together,” Gonik says.

Dima Galen, 29, from Ungvar, western Ukraine, was the counselor for the medical professionals’ group. He admits he had concerns about the mix of participants from Russia, Ukraine and Crimea before the tour began. “I was afraid of some conflicts and how they would be with each other – but they are all doctors and they are all Jewish and it makes them feel together,” he says.

He says that he tries to avoid any political discussions but of course cannot control what his participants talk about privately. “When I see there is something, we try to find what we have in common,” he notes. He comes from western Ukraine and though he says his area is highly tolerant, Russia is still seen as the enemy. “We are under pressure of propaganda so it’s important to see real people, not just something from the media,” he says.

This is the second time Galen is leading a mixed group. “Because they have doctors’ ideals and believe that human life is the most important thing, in some way it protects them from extreme levels of aggression,” he says. “We try our best to mix the group, to help them talk to each other and to get truthful information from the opposite side.” The counselor also encourages participants to stay in touch after the program, though he acknowledges that visits to one another are difficult in the current situation.

Tamara Berehovska, 22, from Kiev, led an all- Ukrainian group, but she was concerned about how the participants would interact with those from Russian-controlled areas.

“Sometimes they talk about their lives in the occupied territories and some people are interested, but sometimes people are surprised that they don’t leave and think that if they love Ukraine then why don’t they leave,” she says, but adds that this topic is left un-tackled as there is also an understanding that it is hard to leave one’s home.

“I can say on the seventh day of the trip that it works totally fine. They act like they have been friends forever. All 40 are dancing together right now,” she says, as the pumping music from the mega-event dance party outside reverberates through the room.

“There are no cliques and division at all,” she emphasizes.

Like Pevzner, Berehovska is actively involved in Jewish life and education. She spent three years working for the Jewish Agency and studied Jewish texts intensively on a program in Sweden. She was inspired to lead a Birthright group in order to share her wealth of knowledge.

But Ivan Goncharenko, Birthright’s FSU and Germany marketing and recruitment director, emphasizes that these active and affiliated Jews are far from the norm. According to him, more than 50 half of the participants from the former Soviet Union didn’t even know they had Jewish roots until recently. “My priority is to find anyone who can go on Birthright,” he says. Every two weeks he travels to Ukraine and Russia to find Jews who could participate. “If we don’t find them today, we will lose them,” he says.

Indeed, Mariia Skorska, 22, a marketing student from Dnipro, Ukraine [until May 2016, Dnipropetrovsk (Ukrainian) or Dnepropetrovsk (Russian)] only discovered recently that she is Jewish. Her parents had never told her that her mother was Jewish and she learned of her family history from a cousin.

“So now, when I learn more about the Jewish religion and Israeli history, I want to join the community and learn more and more. I’m proud of it,” she gushes. Having spoken to Israeli soldiers who joined her group and having been moved by a visit to Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, Skorska has decided she wants to serve in the IDF. “I want to do the same thing as these people who protect and support the country,” she says.

Skorska has made Russian friends during her trip, and echoes the voices of others when she says, “We don’t talk about politics – we’re all friends.”

Kate Kalvari, 25, from Kiev, says, “We were worried about it at first, but we saw that we were all adults and first and foremost we are Jewish – everyone is a citizen of his country and politics is not our subject of conversation.”

The same holds for the counselors. Ahead of the summer, Goncharenko led a training seminar for more than 100 counselors from all over the FSU.

“They set aside their political differences – it’s not important, they speak about other things,” he says.