J Street, JCPA launch conferences grappling with Jewish advocacy under Trump

J Street

WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the public policy umbrella for Jewish community councils around the country, launched annual conferences in Washington that each focused on challenges to Jewish activism during the Trump administration.

J Street’s adversarial relationship to the new administration was explicit in its programming, while the JCPA was not so blunt, but agendas for both conferences, running Sunday through Tuesday, indicated a rough transition from the Obama administration, which was largely friendly to the aims of both groups.

Both conferences include sessions dedicated to advancing the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; President Donald Trump has said he is agnostic about the outcome, reversing 15 years of U.S. policy favoring two states as a final status arrangement.

The JCPA program focused on civil rights, particularly criminal justice reform. Panelists at sessions on Sunday morning spoke of their fears that the Trump administration would reverse Obama reforms, including greater oversight of community policing.

Panels at both conferences spotlighted Islamophobia, or hostility to Muslims, while J Street also had panels on refugees and JCPA on immigration rights. Trump has come under fire for his attacks on Muslims during his campaign and for banning entry to refugees and to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries once he became president.

JCPA ran two separate sessions in sequence on Sunday on advocacy under Trump, one with figures in and out of the Jewish community who are among Trump’s sharpest critics and the next with figures, representing the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition, who support his agenda.

In addition to an array of Jewish groups that come under the JCPA umbrella, there were guest speakers at the conference representing groups that also are aligned against aspects of the Trump agenda, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Immigration Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

J Street made no bones about its oppositional agenda, with one training session entitled “Fighting for Our Future; Harnessing our Power in the Age of Trump.” On Saturday night, in a pre-conference event, J Street U, the group’s university affiliate, marched on the White House, for, it said on its Twitter feed, “peace, democracy & an end to rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Speakers at J Street include some of the Trump administration’s most outspoken critics, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who lost last year’s Democratic primaries to Hillary Clinton; Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Clinton’s vice presidential pick; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and top Obama administration Middle East officials. Also appearing are Israeli opposition and government figures; and Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian Authority negotiator.

Jeremy Ben Ami, the J Street president, said Trump’s policies necessitated a broader agenda for the group, which had until recently focused more on Middle East issues, advocating for the Obama administration’s peace policies and the Iran nuclear deal. That advocacy often makes the group the target of criticism by larger Jewish organizations, who object to its frequent criticism of Israeli government policies.

“There are some really important fights ahead on foreign policy, on Israel, on the Iran deal, on Palestinians, on Israel at the United Nations,” Ben-Ami said Sunday at a briefing for reporters. “But there are also issues we haven’t related to as J Street, which we will, like refugees, immigration and Islamophobia.”

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Yad Vashem calls on Amazon to stop selling books denying the Holocaust

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has called on online retailer Amazon to remove books that deny the Holocaust from its websites.

Dr. Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, last week sent an email to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting that he immediately remove the books from the sites.

“It has been clear for many years now that Holocaust denial literature is freely available for purchase over Amazon. Many of the items appear with glowing readers’ reviews and recommendations for further reading in the same vein,” Rozett wrote in the letter, the Jerusalem Post first reported.

“Once again, given the presence of anti-Semitism around the globe, which has become more prevalent in recent years, we strongly urge you to remove books that deny, distort and trivialize the Holocaust from your store,” the letter said.

Amazon has removed books that deny the Holocaust from online stores in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal, but they remain available in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British newspaper The Independent reported earlier this month that the books were removed in some countries, including Italy, France and Germany, after Amazon was contacted about the sale of such books by The Sunday Times of London.

Among the books still available on Amazon’s U.S. and U.K. online stores are “Did Six Million Really Die?” by Richard Harwood; “The Six Million: Fact or Fiction?,” and “The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews.”

CLEAR UPTICK IN US ANTISEMITISM SINCE ELECTION, SAYS ADL

 

The desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and the St. Louis area have prompted an outcry from Jewish groups nationwide: The problem of antisemitism in the United States appears to be rapidly worsening. They can see it and they can feel it.

And the rest of the country is beginning to sense it as well.

But who is measuring it? That would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which records hate crimes nationwide, and the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish nongovernmental organization that tracks and verifies antisemitic incidents on an annual basis.

Neither the FBI nor the ADL has yet issued a report for 2016, much less for the beginning of 2017, which has witnessed a slew of high-profile attacks and threats against Jews and their institutions.

But both can discern from their collection of reported incidents a clear increase in activity beyond what they have seen in recent memory.

“Regardless of what final numbers of antisemitic incidents will be, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in reporting – and that’s actually why it takes longer to go through this data and verify everything. It was happening before Election Day, but definitely since Election Day, we’ve seen an uptick,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” he added.

The ADL was alarmed by a spike in antisemitic behavior on social media in 2016, facilitated by the anonymity that attackers enjoy on platforms like Twitter. The group issued a special report on the phenomenon late last year that found more than two-thirds of 19,253 antisemitic tweets targeting journalists during the presidential election campaign had been sent by roughly 1,600 Twitter accounts.

Now it is investigating over 70 bomb threats phoned in to Jewish community centers over the past two months – and into its own headquarters, prompting a brief evacuation last week.

The perpetrators of the bomb threats have not yet been identified, and law enforcement has been unable to confirm whether one individual is orchestrating the campaign or whether several people are involved.

“We’re looking at the impact of this, so who does it is important – we need to find out – but what the impact of this is on the communities is our primary concern,” Segal said.

The ADL has also received reports of approximately 90 different white supremacist flyers being distributed on college campuses, an unprecedented number.

“Alt-right groups have determined that now is their time to strike,” said Segal, referring to a political coalition of nativists and ethnic-nationalists who supported President Donald Trump’s political rise.

FBI and ADL reports from 2015 recorded an increase in antisemitic incidents from the prior year, which at the time was considered significant.

But that “relatively small” increase has now been dwarfed by recent developments, Segal said, making note of a decade-long decline in activity leading up to the recent spike.

“I don’t think we can draw a direct line from any one thing to say that’s why antisemitism seems to be up, except for perhaps one place: social media,” Segal said.

“The reality is,” he continued, “more people are likely to encounter a swastika on their [cell]phone than they are in their neighborhood.

And when you see the number of trolls engage online in this antisemitic narrative, our concern is that their Internet activities will mainstream these hateful messages and have real-world consequences.”

Jewish Federations of North America president and CEO Jerry Silverman has expressed deep concern over the issue.

Talking to The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors winter meeting in Tel Aviv, Silverman said: “The level of hate crimes, both antisemitic and against other faiths, around the world scares me deeply.”

On the other hand, he said, the Jewish community has great confidence in law enforcement authorities, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, all of which he referred to as “great partners.” He also referenced training that has been conducted over the past few years in all community infrastructures.

“We’ve increased the capacity and capability of our security network over last three years because the wave was building and we saw what was happening,” Silverman asserted.

With clear methods and protocols in place, he said, “it’s business as usual” within a very short space of time following an incident.

“A phone call creates an environment of terrorism that is designed to change behavior,” said Michael Siegal, former chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees and a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.

“The good news is that the calls have not manifested themselves into anything serious, even though the call in and of itself is serious,” said Siegal, who also serves as head of the Secure Community Network, a project of the JFNA and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“When you have to evacuate a JCC and see children standing outside, as a parent, you wonder whether or not I should continue to send kids to those environments,” he reflected. “But we don’t know if it’s one person or an organization, and until we work with the government to discover who is doing these particular calls, the pattern is that it’s probably one person or organization – very sophisticated – but not a groundswell of lots of people doing something.”

Indeed, Siegal’s successor on the board of the JFNA, Richard V. Sandler, pointed to a recent Pew Research Center study that found Jews as a religious group received the warmest ratings among Americans.

“I don’t believe myself that as a result of whatever happened over the last year that there are a greater number of antisemites in the country,” Sandler said.

“Antisemitism is a problem; always is. I think more have felt the freedom to raise their ugly heads, but hopefully that will subside.”

Silverman, too, sees light in the darkness, highlighting the thousands of dollars donated by Muslim charities to renovate the vandalized St. Louis cemetery and the fact that Vice President Mike Pence made time in his schedule to help clean up the damage. He added that he himself had received phone calls from the largest nonprofits in America offering their help.

“We don’t know enough information at this point, frankly, for this in any way to change our culture or our attitudes,” he said. “What it does is make us more alert and smarter in how to deal with it, and it allows us as communities to come together – and that’s a good thing.”

DOES TRUMP ERA MARK NEW DAY FOR ISRAEL-US RELATIONS?

 

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Does-Trump-era-mark-new-day-for-Israel-US-relations-482648

 

US President Donald Trump’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a welcome breath of fresh air, according to Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Labor MK who addressed the issue at a Jewish Agency- hosted panel in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

At a session about Israel-US relations in the Trump era, Wilf opined that the “supposedly careless” element of the president’s attitude toward a one- or two-state solution is “not only refreshing, but it is what we really need.

 

“If people are truly willing to leave us alone to find what we can agree on, it will be one of the greatest contributions to making peace,” she asserted, stating that external players don’t truly understand the roots of the conflict.

“If Trump might lead a noninterventionist approach, I think it would make a tremendous contribution to the ability of both sides to agree,” she said.

The panel took place on the first day of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors winter meetings, held at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Wilf sat alongside Michael Herzog, a retired IDF brigadier-general and former senior defense official; Richard V. Sandler, chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America’s board of trustees; and former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold. The panel was moderated by journalist Tal Schneider.

Herzog said he “doesn’t buy” the one-state solution.

“To me, a one-state solution is a contradiction in terms,” he said.

“It’s a recipe for a never-ending war…. It’s Belfast, Kosovo, Serbia all over again, and the end of the Zionist idea.”

Gold said that discussions about states “leave out the critical issue of borders,” adding that in any arrangement, Israel must never leave the Jordan valley, retaining it as its front line of defense.

“Israel must maintain some settlement blocs,” he added.

The regional approach referred to during Trump’s press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month was another aspect the panelists focused on.

Noting the development of relations between Israel and Arab countries over the past few years, Herzog said that “rather than going back to the old paradigm of bilateral negotiations, which lead nowhere, let’s make use of relations with the Arabs and open more space” to enable engagement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Following the discussion from the front row, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky noted that the Israeli panelists all seemed optimistic about the future, in contrast with the American Jews he converses with.

To this, Sandler responded that just as American Jewry doesn’t understand the daily realities of Israelis, the same is true vice versa.

“We have to make it a better bridge,” he said. “US Jewry wants to see peace in the Middle East – we all agree on that. But how to get there is the problem.”

He added that there was optimism among those who have knowledge about the new administration and its relationship with Israel, and pointed to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s scathing criticism of the Security Council’s anti-Israel bias.

“There is no question that relationships mean a lot to Trump and he clearly has good chemistry with Netanyahu, and I wouldn’t underestimate that,” Sandler said.

Jerusalem Post: A Bulgarian Love Affair with Israel

Bulgaria: Jerusalem Post: A Bulgarian Love Affair with Israel Bulgarian President (2012-2017) Rosen Plevneliev. File photo, BGNES

A politician who “wans to look to the future… has to come to Israel, not once, but many times,” Bulgarian President (2012-2017) Rosen Plevneliev has told the Jerusalem Post.

In an interview with the paper, which publishes a story about his live for Israel, he says:

Israel is a very special country in my heart. We feel very strongly attached to Israel. We share the same destiny.”

The Jerusalem Post recalls Plevneliev was given the Friends of Zion Award in Jerusalem this week.

The Jerusalem Post, whose story is available here, wrongly states Plevenliev left office “after losing reelection to Rumen Radev.”

Last spring, the previous head of state made an address in which he made clear he was not running for a second term.

Plevneliev is among the handful of world leaders who have received the award, including Pope Francis, George W Bush, and Prince Albert of Monaco.

The ceremony was aired on a billboard at New York’s Times Square.

– See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/179036/Jerusalem+Post%3A+A+Bulgarian+Love+Affair+with+Israel#sthash.RvfmHrHU.dpuf

At Las Vegas confab, Republican Jews find reasons to like Trump

LAS VEGAS (JTA) — Republican Jews have President Donald Trump to thank for their party’s renewed dominance of Washington politics. So what do they think of him?

Marlyn Appelbaum paused to contemplate the question at the opening of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s confab at the Venetian resort hotel in Las Vegas Friday evening. Then, she avoided mentioning the president.

“My biggest thing is pro-Israel,” said Appelbaum, the head of a teacher training institute in Sugar Land, Texas. “I was real upset at the last eight years. I think things for Israel are going to turn around.”

Her answer captured the vibe at the RJC’s annual two-day Leadership Meeting. Amid giddy celebration of the end of the Obama years and the advent of a new Republican administration, RJC officials and members seemed to make an effort to get excited about Trump, with whom their group has a fraught history.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, takes the stage with his wife Karen Pence, right, after they were introduced by former Vice President Dick Cheney, left, at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By contrast, US Vice President Mike Pence, one of the pro-Israel community’s closest friends, was greeted effusively at the event, where he addressed the crowd.

Michael Epstein, an RJC board member emceeing Friday’s dinner, delivered a dreams-come-true welcoming speech: “For the first time in RJC history we have a sitting Republican vice president sitting with us for our Shabbat dinner!” Epstein announced after Pence’s speech. The crowd erupted in applause.

“And a Republican president who is going to make our country great again!” Epstein added. Only a couple tables in the corner clapped.

Still, “Make America Great Again” kippahs dotted the Venetian’s byways, and Elliot Lauer, a board member perhaps best known as Jonathan Pollard’s lawyer, delivered a dvar Torah Friday evening in which he likened Trump’s victory to the triumph of the Jews in ancient Persia celebrated on Purim.

Asked about Trump, RJC members clad in bespoke suits and flowing gowns highlighted his political effectiveness.

“He did say things that were offensive,” said Robert Lewit, a retired psychiatrist from Florida who in the Republican primaries supported Marco Rubio, his state’s US senator. But “he’s innately a brilliant politician, making immigration an issue, advocating for a US economic revival.”

Though unimpressed by Trump’s star turn on “The Apprentice” reality show, Lewit’s wife, Jane, said, “No one saw what he saw: the forgotten man,” a reference to Trump’s appeal to working and middle class Americans. “In any case, it’s better than what was. I happen to have had a total antipathy for our last president, and everything he stood for.”

It has been a rocky road for the RJC and Trump. At the group’s presidential candidates’ forum in December 2015, Trump mocked the wealthy Jewish donors by saying he too was rich and so immune to their purchasing power. He also said he would be “neutral” on brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace and refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In this Dec. 3, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Then there were Trump’s affronts to minorities, like Muslims and Hispanics, which did not sit well with a Republican constituency that has in recent years spearheaded calls for the party to be more inclusive. And when Trump appeared last spring hesitant to disavow his burgeoning support from the “alt-right,” a loose grouping of anti-establishment conservatives that includes within its ranks unabashed anti-Semites, the RJC went dark.

The group hardly issued statements mentioning Trump. None of its events at the Republican National Convention in July were open to the press — in contrast with the group’s high profile in past years. Its get-out-the-vote drive barely mentioned Trump and focused on vulnerable GOP senators in states with large Jewish communities. And even its inauguration party last month was closed to the media.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Now, the RJC is trying hard to get behind the president. Trump’s pivot from his “neutrality” on Israel in 2015 to an eager embrace earlier this month of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and his policies on the Palestinians and Iran — have helped the RJC belatedly come around.

“There was not a consensus [on the RJC board],” said Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist who was among about a dozen of the 50 or so board members who backed Trump prior to his nomination. “Even when he was our presumptive nominee. Over time, people became more supportive. Now that he’s president, there’s deeper support on the board.”

Fred Zeidman, another board member who is close to former President George W. Bush and could never quite bring himself to endorse Trump during the presidential campaign, said it was incumbent on all Republicans to make sure government works now that the GOP is in control of all its levers.

“I have a vested interest in making this White House a success,” said the Houston-area businessman.

Asked by journalists Friday about Trump’s most recent Jewish controversies — including the White House’s omission of reference to the Jews in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was widely criticized by Jewish groups, including the RJC — the group’s director Matt Brooks talked about Israel.

Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Screen capture: YouTube)

“There’s a professional complaining class in the Jewish community that will criticize and attack Donald Trump no matter what he says,” Brooks said. “People who genuinely have an open mind, individuals and organizations, see he is following through on commitments he made on campaign, he is repositioning in a positive way the US-Israel relationship.”

Brooks also pointed to the vice president. “He’s a terrific partner to President Trump, you have a terrific team with the both of them.”

In his speech, Pence too vouched for Trump’s pro-Israel bone fides. “If the world knows nothing else, it will know this: America stands with Israel,” he said.

“We told the ayatollahs of Iran they should check the calendar, there’s a new president in the Oval Office. President Trump will never allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, this is my solemn promise to you.”

Pence also described his recent visit to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, where a Holocaust survivor gave him a tour. The crowd was clearly moved.

In one ballroom of the Venetian, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who has defended the Trump White House from allegations it is covering up Russian interference in the elections, pleaded with RJC members to have the president’s back, according to people who were present. Boris Epshteyn, a top White House aide who is emblematic of an emerging vocal minority among Republican Jews who have adopted the alt-right’s confrontational style, made a similar pitch in another ballroom.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who owns the Venetian and who contributed tens of millions to the effort to elect Trump, had a private meeting with Pence prior to his speech. At Trump’s inauguration, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were accorded a rare honor to political donors, appearing on the capitol’s dais for the swearing-in.

Despite his access, Sheldon Adelson’s hoped-for administration officials have been waylaid: Former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Elliott Abrams, a mandarin in the Reagan and the George W. Bush administrations, are all on the outside looking in.

Casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson in attendance at the 4th Annual Champions Of Jewish Values International Awards Gala at Marriott Marquis Times Square on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Steve Mack/Getty Images via JTA)

Seen as responsible for freezing them out is Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, a hero of the alt-right and the bane of neoconservatism, an interventionist outlook that many Republican Jews still support.

But RJC members were able to hold up their Jewish representatives in government, however few. Rep. David Kustoff, the freshman from Tennessee, joked, in an easy drawl, that “Jewish Republicans in the House grew by 100 percent,” with him joining Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-New York.

Eric Greitens, the steel-jawed Missouri governor, described how he rallied a diverse community this week to help clean up a vandalized St. Louis area Jewish graveyard, an effort joined at the last minute, by none other than the vice president. Pence called out inspiration over a bullhorn. Pence stood on the back of a pick-up truck. Pence wielded a rake.

Anita Feigenbaum, executive director at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery speaks to the crowd on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. Governor Eric Greitens (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence (L) were on hand to speak to over 300 volunteers who helped cleanup after the recent vandalism. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images/AFP Photo)

Greitens, having depicted a sweaty, intense Pence, getting down and dirty for the Jews, finally got around to Trump.

“The president had called me earlier that day,” Greitens said. “He said, tell the people of Missouri that we stand with them in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

ADL offers $10,000 for help finding Philadelphia cemetery vandals

A prominent Jewish group is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals who desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia on Sunday.

“We are horrified by the desecration at Mount Carmel Cemetery,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia regional director Nancy K. Baron-Baer said in a statement Monday.

“This act is cowardly and unconscionable, and is all the more despicable coming on the heels of a similar vandalism at another Jewish cemetery in St. Louis last week. We urge anyone with information on this crime to report it immediately to the Philadelphia Police Department at 215-686-TIPS.”

Police said that the incident at the city’s Mount Carmel Cemetery was an act of vandalism and have opened an investigation, according to a local ABC affiliate.

Police did not say whether they were treating the case as a possible hate crime.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon condemned the incident, writing on Twitter that the “Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry. Full confidence US authorities catch and punish culprits.”

Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry . Full confidence authorities catch and punish culprits .

The discovery of the vandalized Jewish headstones in Philadelphia Sunday follows a similar incident last week in which over 150 graves were damaged at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis.

In the ADL statement, Baron-Baer said, “We stand with the Jewish community and all decent Philadelphians in condemning this crime, and we are inspired by the outpouring of support from law enforcement, community leaders and neighbors. We all must band together in the face of senseless crimes like the vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery.”

New Jersey resident Aaron Mallin, who made the discovery when visiting his father’s grave, told the local TV station he hoped it was not an anti-Semitic attack.

“I’m hoping it was maybe just some drunk kids. But the fact that there’s so many it leads one to think it could have been targeted,” Mallin said.

The vandalism at the Jewish graveyard in Missouri was decried by leading American Jewish groups, who called on the US authorities to take action in response to a perceived recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the US. It was also followed by US President Donald Trump’s first explicit condemnation over the trend.

On Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence visited the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery outside of St. Louis where the incident took place, joining Missouri’s Jewish Governor Eric Greitens and other volunteers in an interfaith service and cleanup effort.

US Vice President Mike Pence visits a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis following an act of vandalism at the site. (YouTube screenshot)

In addition to the vandalism at the Jewish cemeteries, there were also instances of anti-Semitic vandalism at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, over the past week.

At Drake University, an anti-Semitic slur was discovered carved into a chair in a university lecture hall. The university is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“Let me be clear that we will not tolerate acts of oppression and hate, and will do everything in our power to deal with this,” University Provost Dr. Sue Mattison said in an email sent to students.

In the suburb of Orchard Park outside of Buffalo, about one dozen swastikas and racial slurs were drawn on cars and a building.

A nearby elementary school playground and railway overpasses were similarly vandalized.

The spray-painted swastikas and slurs were discovered on Saturday morning and were believed to have been painted late on Friday night, according to reports.

At least 11 cars and an apartment building in the Village of Orchard Park near Buffalo were vandalized with the spray-painted swastikas and slurs, according to local reports. The reports began coming in to police at 3 a.m. on Saturday and continued throughout the morning.

Public and private surveillance camera footage is being checked to find the perpetrators, according to village police. Investigators believe more than one person could be involved, according to the reports.

Peru president, son of Jewish refugee, tells Trump he prefers ‘bridges to walls’

The president of Peru, whose father was a Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis, told US President Donald Trump during a visit at the White House that he prefers “bridges to walls.”

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, born in Lima to a French Protestant mother and German Jewish father who fled the Nazis in 1933, gave Trump a gentle rebuke over his controversial proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico, reported the Washington Post.

Kuczynski on Friday became the first Latin American president to visit Trump in Washington.

The US-educated former Wall Street banker, who renounced his American citizenship to run for Peru’s presidency last June, took a strong stand against Trump’s “America First” agenda while many in the region remain silent.

Kuczynski, 78, told Trump he was interested in the free movement of people — “legally,” he emphasized — and also spoke about trade and economic development, reported the Post.

Earlier this month, Kuczynski thanked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for barring entrance to Peru’s fugitive ex-president, Alejandro Toledo, whose wife holds Israeli citizenship, until he settled his affairs over corruption charges.

Kuczynski harshly criticized Trump during the US presidential campaign, joking he would cut diplomatic relations with the US “with a saw” if Trump followed through on his pledge to build a wall with Mexico, which he compared to the Berlin Wall. On Friday, he made a point of saying “we prefer bridges to walls.”

Peru’s former president, Alan Garcia, once slammed Kuczynski for not having “a single gram of Peruvian blood. He has Polish, Jewish, French, but Peruvian zero.” A former Peruvian ambassador to Washington declared: “Can I have confidence in this guy? He’s old, his parents were European, his wife’s American, his kids live in the States.”

UN Reveals Israel’s Support for ISIS

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2015/02/un-reveals-israels-support-for-isis/

 

I think that there are two prominent phenomena which will soon make people aware of the fundamental importance and extent of the Jewish question in the present world.

The first phenomenon is the existence of Israel, a prime signal of Jewish ethnocentrism’s inevitable double standard when compared to the ethnically and culturally pluralist attitudes of Diaspora Jews in the West.

The second phenomenon is the exposure of how easy it is for Jews to ally themselves with (or taking the side of) Muslims, if it suits their interest either in their war against the White gentiles — their perceived main Western enemies — or in other ways.

Among major examples of this tendency are European Jewry’s “heightened empathy and sympathy for Islam” and invention of the myth of Islamic tolerance; and the Jewish collaboration with Muslims during the invasion of Christian Spain.

Both phenomena are on display in the Middle East’s current events.


I’m referring to the recent UN documents revealing Israel’s support for ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria.

The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, has long complained of a conspiracy of Zionists and Syrian rebels to overthrow the country’s President Bashar Assad. Mr. Ja’afari has declared that the extremists have an “undeclared alliance with Israel and are engaged in a secret agreement” with its regime.

Now, a United Nations report seems to vindicate his claims. It reveals that Israel has been doing more than simply treating wounded Syrian civilians in hospitals, and details direct regular contacts between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers and armed Syrian opposition fighters, working closely together in the Golan Heights since the spring of 2013.

Thanks to the American intervention which got rid of Saddam Hussein — and ultimately to the US Jewish neoconservative movement and Israel lobby that instigated it ideologically and politically, Iraq, once the strongest supporter of Palestinians (yes, contrary to popular Zionist assertions, they do exist), is weak and divided.

So it’s time to turn to another stable player in the region and potential enemy of Israel: Syria. The protracted civil war on the Syrian government is depleting the country’s army and devastating its infrastructure; rebuilding them will preoccupy Syria for a long time and defuse any military threat from it to Israel. Covertly, Israel is a crucial key player in prolonging this war and is the major beneficiary of maintaining what the Israeli pundit Amos Harel called the “stable instability” in Syria and the region.

But several recent developments have exposed Israel’s no longer discreet role, among which is the UN documentation.

The new report was the work of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) — UN observers in the Golan Heights — and was submitted to the 15 members of the UN Security Council at the beginning of December 2014.

The UNDOF 1,200-strong observer forces — contributed by six countries — have been monitoring since 1974 a buffer zone between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights, stretching about 70 kilometers from Lebanon in the north to Jordan in the south.

Reports by the UNDOF are regularly submitted to the UN Security Council, and since March 2013 have started to show that Israel admits wounded Syrians into the country for medical treatment in hospitals.

Initially the IDF claimed that this was only for medical assistance for civilians, but then UN observers witnessed direct contact between IDF forces and ISIS fighters.

The UN reports said that 89 rebels were transported into the Israeli-occupied zone between March and May 2014, while activists in southern Deraa province and in Quneitra quoted in media reports claim that communications increased between rebels and the Israeli military before the eruption of heavy clashes in the area.

Israel’s health ministry says about 1,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals.

In answer to a question by i24News on whether Israel hospitalises members of al-Nusra Front (the al-Qaeda terror group in Syria) and Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, or ISIS), an Israeli military spokesman’s office admitted: “In the past two years the Israel Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.”

Syria maintains that it has “information indicating that there were undercover agents among the wounded Syrians recently treated by Israel”:

She further claimed that Israeli officers are operating in Syria and monitoring the fighting in the war-torn country…

Assad himself told an Argentinean newspaper a few months ago that Israel is assisting the rebels fighting to topple his regime.

“Israel is directly supporting the terrorist groups in two ways,” he claimed. “Firstly it gives them logistical support, and it also tells them what sites to attack and how to attack them.”

UN observations have been cut short, in part due to attacks on UN monitors by the very terrorists Israel is suspected of associating with — attacks that managed to prevent any further documentation.

Israel’s ties to militants have long been documented. In November 2014 members of Israel’s Druze minority published a statement accusing the Israeli government of supporting all factions fighting against the Syrian government, including al-Nusra — the militant group loyal to al-Qaeda — and the Islamic State, not only by offering them medical care but also by supplying them with weapons. The Druze group had issued similar warnings in the past.

Whenever Israel strikes at Syria, it strikes at the only viable nation fighting ISIS in the region.

The main — if not only — force providing a defence for regional minorities, including Christians, Jews, Druzes and Muslims of all sects, is the Syrian Arab Army. Attacking it undermines its ability to curb what can otherwise become uncontrolled genocide carried out by extremists.

The UN and other reports have described transfer of crates of unspecified supplies from the IDF to militant rebels, sightings of IDF soldiers meeting with Syrian insurgents, and cases of Israeli soldiers opening up the fence to allow Syrians through who didn’t appear to be injured.

Witnesses on a late December’s RT TV documentary said they had seen Israeli forces in talks with armed, militant anti-Assad fighters.

Foreign Policy wrote:

Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [WINEP] and an expert on the Golan Heights, said that Israel is supplying Syrian villages with medicines, heaters, and other humanitarian supplies. The assistance, he said, has benefited civilians and insurgents.

Given that Yaari is Israeli and given that WINEP is a pillar of the Israel Lobby, Israeli assistance may in fact go well beyond humanitarian aid.

This is part of a continuing process. In early December 2014 Syrian officials demanded the UN impose sanctions on Israel after Tel Aviv conducted airstrikes in the areas of Dimas, known to contain military bases and research centres, and Damascus International Airport, damaging some facilities. This was the seventh major unprovoked air strike by Israel on Syrian defences since 2011 and the fifth in the previous 18 months.

The Syrians said the attack was a heinous crime against their sovereignty by a country that doesn’t hide its policy of supporting terrorism.

Israel claimed that it was a “defensive measure,” as Syria was “hiding sophisticated weaponry destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

It is odd, however, that Israel attacks what it labels “regional threats” in Damascus while providing sanctuaries for terrorist groups like al-Nusra and ISIS by allowing them to maintain tanks and artillery along its borders.

That Israel’s aid to terrorist insurgents in Syria is not limited to medical assistance was also evident from what The Times of Israel reported in August 2014:

A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week …

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities,” Safouri said in the video. …

Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian [rifles], 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56 millimeter bullets.

In March 2014, Haaretz reported:

The Syrian opposition is willing to give up claims to the Golan Heights in return for cash and Israeli military aid against President Bashar Assad, a top opposition official told Al Arab newspaper, according to a report in Al Alam…

The Western-backed militant groups want Israel to enforce a no-fly zone over parts of southern Syria to protect rebel bases from air strikes by Assad’s forces, according to the report.

On 20 January 2015, Foreign Affairs interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who accused the IDF of conspiring with al-Qaeda. Asked what he thought Israel’s agenda is, he replied:

“They are supporting the rebels in Syria. It’s very clear. Because whenever we make advances in some place, they make an attack in order to undermine the army. It’s very clear. That’s why some in Syria joke: “How can you say that al Qaeda doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force [a reference to its attacks on regime and Hezbollah positions in Syria].”…

“The question that we have is, how much will does the United States have to really fight terrorism on the ground? So far, we haven’t seen anything concrete in spite of the attacks on ISIS in northern Syria. There’s nothing concrete. What we’ve seen so far is just, let’s say, window-dressing, nothing real. Since the beginning of these attacks, ISIS has gained more land in Syria and Iraq.”…

So are you saying you want greater U.S. involvement in the war against ISIS?

“It’s not about greater involvement by the military, because it’s not only about the military; it’s about politics. It’s about how much the United States wants to influence the Turks. Because if the terrorists can withstand the air strikes for this period, it means that the Turks keep sending them armaments and money. Did the United States put any pressure on Turkey to stop the support of al Qaeda? They didn’t; they haven’t.”…

So are you suggesting there should be U.S. troops on the ground?

“Not U.S. troops. I’m talking about the principle, the military principle. I’m not saying American troops. If you want to say I want to make war on terrorism, you have to have troops on the ground. The question you have to ask the Americans is, which troops are you going to depend on? Definitely, it has to be Syrian troops. This is our land; this is our country. We are responsible. We don’t ask for American troops at all.”…

The US has backed the Syrian insurgents since early in the civil war, and is planning to train over 5,000 “vetted” rebels. During the same interview Assad argued that such US plans are “illusory” as these rebels would eventually defect to the jihadists: “They are going to be fought like any other illegal militia fighting against the Syrian army.”

There are no “moderate rebels” in Syria. Even the groups and leaders considered moderate by the West openly admit that they are working closely with the extremists and the most radical, who always end up having control over the anti-Assad opposition. Terrorist al-Nusra and the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have collaborated in the battlefield against the Assad regime. In short, Israel is supporting ISIS and terrorists.

And, even if the fantasy of moderate rebels were reality, helping these people would mean distracting and using up Assad’s resources for the battle against them, thus weakening the only viable force fighting ISIS in the region.

As the Syrian government has been saying since 2011, Syria is engaged in a war not against its own people or “pro-democracy” forces, but against extremists and terrorists.

Last January’s Foreign Affairs interview with Assad quoted above has an interesting ending:

If you were able to deliver a message to President Obama today, what would it be?

“I think the normal thing that you ask any official in the world is to work for the interests of his people. And the question I would ask any American is, what do you get from supporting terrorists in our country, in our region? What did you get from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood a few years ago in Egypt and other countries? What did you get from supporting someone like Erdogan?”

These policies are not in the interests of the US but seemingly for Israel: supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, like invading Iraq, has served to destabilise the consolidated powers in the region. Assad continued:

“You [Americans] are the greatest power in the world now; you have too many things to disseminate around the world: knowledge, innovation, IT, with its positive repercussions. How can you be the best in these fields yet the worst in the political field? This is a contradiction. That is what I think the American people should analyze and question. Why do you fail in every war? You can create war, you can create problems, but you cannot solve any problem. Twenty years of the peace process in Palestine and Israel, and you cannot do anything with this, in spite of the fact that you are a great country.” [Emphasis added]

All this seems nonsensical and contradictory if you indeed start from the premise that US foreign and domestic policies are meant to benefit the US. But it immediately becomes rational if you see that American elites are at war with their own people and don’t act with their best interest at heart.

But in the context of Syria, what would a better policy look like?

One that preserves stability in the Middle East. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after more than 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square. So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society, like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars. Launching war doesn’t make you a great power.”

Assad’s suggested strategy is reasonable but is the opposite of what America is pursuing, because stability in the Middle East, by making Israel’s enemies stronger, is not in the interest of the Jewish state.

Which, while publicly condemning them, doesn’t hesitate to side with and help the terrorist groups capable of committing the worst atrocities, including beheading children, using women as sex slaves, and setting men on fire.

Enza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based Philosophy graduate, writer and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L’Espresso, La Repubblica.

She blogs at www.enzaferreri.blogspot.co.uk.

REPORT: TRUMP MAY PULL US OUT OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DUE TO ISRAEL BIAS

 

The Trump administration may soon back Israel on its claim of UN bias and pull out of the organization’s Human Rights Council, Politico reported on Saturday.

According to the report, the administration is not expected to withdraw ahead of the council’s next session that begins on Monday, but discussion of the option has already begun and is expected to include input from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and President Donald Trump.

 

The administration regards the Council as being inherently anti-Israel which is the main reason for the consideration for pulling out of the international body, according to the report.

The news site also reported that in private conversations, Secretary Tillerson has expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Council.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not confirm whether the issue was being considered and would only say that “our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session which starts Monday.”

Former Israeli ambassador to the US and current deputy minister for the Kulanu party Michael Oren welcomed a potential US move to withdraw from the council.

“US decision to quit the insanely anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council would send a moral message to the world,” Oren wrote on Twitter.
Since its creation in 2006, the UN Human Rights Council has been persistently criticized by the US for its biased treatment of Israel, which has been condemned more than any other country, including persistent human rights abusers such as Iran and Syria.

Under former US president George W. Bush, the US initially refused to seek a seat on the 47-member body and then withdrew from it altogether in 2008. Former US president Barack Obama reversed that position upon entering office, believing that the UNHRC could best be changed from within.

During the Obama administration the US held two consecutive terms on the council, from 2009 to 2015. It is now serving a three-year membership term that began in 2016. The US has often been the sole country to vote against resolutions condemning Israel.