antisemitic

Canadian police issue arrest warrant for anti-Semitic imam

Police in Montreal, Canada, have issued an arrest warrant for a Palestinian-Jordanian imam accusing him of willful promotion of hatred, following speeches that demonize Jews and use the Quran to call for their destruction.

The warrant follows a probe by Montreal police’s hate crimes squad, after a complaint by B’nai Brith Canada about a December speech at the Dar al-Arkam mosque during which Muhammad bin Musa al Nasrdescribed Jews as “the most evil of mankind” and as “human demons.”

The imam then quoted from the Quran, saying at “the end of time … the stone and the tree will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me – come and kill him!’”

The mosque allowed the West Bank-born imam, a prominent member of the hard-line Salafist movement in Jordan, where he lectures at the al-Ahliyya University in Amman, to deliver more than a dozen other speeches as well.

Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, told the Montreal Gazette, “Today, the Jewish community of Montreal can sleep safer, knowing that there is a price to pay for inciting violence against our community.

CEO of B’nai Brith Canada Michael Mostyn (courtesy)

“This incident and others like it demonstrate that anti-Semitism, especially in the guise of religion, remains a serious problem in Canada today.”

Bnai Brith has called for the extradition of the imam, whom it believes is in Jordan, although his precise whereabouts are not known.

While several Muslim groups have condemned the speech, the Dar al- Arkam mosque has not removed the original Arabic version from its YouTube channel, nor has it apologized, the Gazette said.

The complaint against Nasr was the second against a Montreal imam.

A video released in March by the Middle East Media Research Institute showed Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi in November 2014 delivering a sermon at the Al Andalous Islamic Center in the St. Laurent borough against the “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood, and cursed the Lord …”

In February, a video from August 2014 released on YouTube showed a different imam from the mosque calling on Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews” and that they be killed “one by one.”

Montreal’s hate crimes unit is also reportedly looking to question a local rapper, Jonathan Azaziah (aka Madd Cold), who — according to B’nai Brith — uses his music to promote anti-Semitism.

Among Azaziah’s songs is one called “Death to Israel,” and another titled “Overthrow the Saudis.”

“We are pleased that the Montreal Hate Crimes Unit is taking this matter very seriously,” said B’nai Brith’s Mostyn.

“Azaziah has not only proclaimed his desire to murder Jews but encourages others to do the same. This is perhaps the most clear-cut case of incitement to violence against the Jewish people in Canada that we have seen in a long time.”

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Soros ‘distressed’ by ‘anti-Semitic’ Hungary campaign

BUDAPEST, Hungary — US billionaire George Soros hit back Tuesday at a Hungarian government anti-immigration poster and media campaign that he said uses “anti-Semitic” imagery.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the 86-year-old said in a rare statement.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” or Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017 in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Hungary’s largest Jewish organisation, Mazsihisz, has called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to stop the campaign, with its head Andras Heisler writing to the prime minister that the “poisonous messages harm the whole of Hungary.”

Some opposition activists and citizens have also begun taking down some of the posters from billboards.

Soros said he was “heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community” have spoken out.

Earlier Tuesday his spokesperson Michael Vachon called the campaign “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours” with “clearly anti-Semitic overtones.”

Those defacing the posters with graffiti “(understood) the government’s intent,” he said.

“The government has consistently and willfully misrepresented Soros’s views on migration and refugees,” he added.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Saturday, Israel’s ambassador in Budapest Yossi Amrani also criticized the poster campaign, saying it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an European Union leaders summit, on June 22, 2017, at the European Council in Brussels. (JULIEN WARNAND / POOL / AFP)

But late Sunday — reportedly at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office — Israel’s foreign ministry issued a separate “clarification” that criticism of Soros was legitimate.

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon in a statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“In no way was the statement meant to de-legitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” Nahshon added.

Netanyahu is due to visit Hungary next week, the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

Were the Jack the Ripper murders an elaborate anti-Semitic frameup?

LONDON — It is the greatest whodunit in British history. For nearly 130 years, writers, criminologists, historians and amateur sleuths have pondered the identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who stalked the East End of London in the autumn of 1888, butchering women in a series of macabre and brutal murders.

The sheer number and celebrity of those who have been accused of the crimes, and the fact they have remained unsolved, has ensured the Ripper remains firmly embedded in the British psyche. Aside from largely anonymous suspects — such as a fish porter at Billingsgate Market, a Whitechapel barber and a Russian doctor described by Scotland Yard detectives as “a homicidal maniac” — the artist Walter Sickert, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, Sir Winston Churchill’s father, Randolph, and Queen Victoria’s doctor, surgeon and eldest grandson have all come under suspicion of being Jack the Ripper.

The Ripper himself is the subject of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. “Ripperologists” can choose from at least three magazines devoted to his murderous reign, and tourists to London can visit the controversial Jack the Ripper Museum. Such is his notoriety that readers of the BBC History Magazine have voted Jack the Ripper the “worst Briton” in history.

Five women — the so-called “canonical victims” — are generally accepted to have fallen victim to the Ripper during his 12-week killing spree (some believe a number of other murders outside of this time-frame, possibly up to a dozen, may also have been attributable to him). But it is the location of the crimes in which they lost their lives — Whitechapel, a poverty-wracked slum in London’s East End — which, a newly published study of the case claims, offers the most important clue not just as to whodunit, but why.

Described at the time of the murders as “a fragment of Poland torn off from Central Europe and dropped haphazard into the heart of Britain,” Whitechapel and its surrounding neighborhoods stood at the center of the huge late 19th century influx of Jewish immigration into Britain.

An 1869 photo of Jack the Ripper victim Annie Chapman. (Public domain)

In many parts of the East End, Jews constituted a majority of the local population; that number was almost certainly much higher around the streets where the Ripper struck. Sunday Magazine labeled the area “the Jewish colony in London.”

Thus, believes “Jewbaiter Jack The Ripper: New Evidence & Theory” author Stephen Senise, “the setting of the tale is no mere coincidence… it is fundamental in being able to put together what happened.”

An Australian, Senise has been captivated by the Ripper case since childhood.

“Australia was quite isolated when I was growing up,” he explains, “so the very idea of old London Town came with a fair bit of fascination attached. The notion of this dark story, set in 1888 among the London slums, just pulled me in.”

Reading about the case in adulthood, he became increasingly aware of “the anti-Semitic overtones permeating key parts of the story.”

As Senise acknowledges, Jews have featured in the Ripper story from the outset. But they were, he believes, neither simple bystanders nor — as some have later claimed — potential culprits, but central to a methodical and elaborate attempt to stir the already simmering pot of anti-Semitism.

Certainly, the atmosphere for Jews in the autumn of 1888 was sulfurous. Newspapers’ letters pages regularly contained attacks on “pauper foreigners” who were “a pest and a menace to the native born East-Ender.” The trade unions called for tough limits on immigration as elements of the labor movement denounced “Rothschild leeches.” Rabble-rousing politicians railed against “overcrowded” England becoming “the human ashpit for the refuse population in the world,” while physical attacks on Jews were not unknown.

'Jewbaiter: Jack the Ripper' by author Stephen Senise. (Courtesy)

The concerns about immigration did not stem simply from ingrained anti-Semitism. Even when harshly expressed, legitimate concerns about “sweated labor” — in which Jews, working long hours for low pay in poor conditions, undercut the position of native Britons — pointed to the fact that both migrants and indigenous workers were subject to exploitation.

Nonetheless, as Senise argues, the tensions between newly arrived Jews and elements of the British workforce were “essentially one-sided, directed at an easy group of scapegoats.” Newspapers began to warn of “Judenhetz [systematic persecution of the Jews] brewing in East London.”

This was the combustible mix, Senise theorises, that Jack the Ripper was determined to set light to. Ironically, the fuse may have been lit by the fact that a parliamentary inquiry into sweated labor — one of two examining issues related to Jewish immigration — had announced that it would shift its focus away from the East End of London at the end of its autumn session.

However inadvertent, Senise suggests, the committee’s widely reported announcement “had the effect of setting the clock ticking and turning the spotlight on.” It would prove the “deathknell” for a number of impoverished women whose murders the Ripper intended to use in his “bloody campaign to try and target the standing of the Jewish community and close the door to Jewish immigration.”

The terror commenced in the early hours of Friday, August 31, 1888, with the discovery of the grotesquely mutilated body of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, a 42-year-old alcoholic prostitute, just off of Whitechapel Road. A week later, on Saturday, September 8, the Ripper struck again, murdering Annie Chapman in the early hours of the morning. Once again, his target was a heavy-drinking, middle-aged prostitute, and, once again too, her body had been horribly mutilated.

As the Ripper intended, almost immediately the finger of suspicion for the “Whitechapel murders” began to point at the Jews. A possible witness suggested she had seen Chapman with a “foreign” man.

An artist's rendering of police finding Jack the Ripper's victim from an 1888 edition of The Illustrated Police News. (Public domain)

Even before the discovery of a leather apron near to her body, the press was speculating about the potential identity of the killer. Nicknamed “Leather Apron,” this “sinister” knife-carrying figure was described in one newspaper as “a Jew or of Jewish parentage, his face being of a marked ‘Hebrew type.’”

On the day Chapman’s body was discovered, the press later reported, “young roughs” began to threaten the local Jewish population. Cries of “down with the Jews” were heard, suggested a newspaper which headlined its report of the disturbances “A Riot Against the Jews.”

None too subtly, the coroner examining Chapman’s case suggested the murderer had displayed “Judas-like approaches.” Police hauled John Pizer, a second generation Polish Jew, into custody on suspicion of being “Leather Apron,” releasing him when his alibi was shown to be irrefutable.

‘Here was a native local who knew exactly what he was doing’

“I believe that the anti-Jewish rioting which broke out in the East End in direct response to the murders was consistent with Jack the Ripper’s intentions,” says Senise. “Here was a native local who knew exactly what he was doing, the community’s paranoias, its raw nerves and exposed sinews.”

On the night of the final Saturday of September, the Ripper carried out his most audacious killings. The double murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes left a further trail of clues as to his anti-Semitic motives. The locations of the attacks were chosen with care. Stride was attacked in a yard where a radical Yiddish newspaper was printed and published which was, in turn, next to a working men’s club frequented by Jewish socialists. Eddowes was murdered in Mitre Square, in close proximity to the capital’s Great Synagogue.

Senise argues the evening also provided the only two “near indisputable” pieces of communication from Jack the Ripper. The content of both were highly revealing and purposefully so. As an FBI report about Jack the Ripper carried out in 1988 on the 100th anniversary of the killings suggested, when serial killers make public statements about their crimes, “they generally provide information relative to their motivation.”

An 1888 Police Gazette depiction of Jack the Ripper. (Public domain)

The first came as a man thought to be the Ripper was spotted attempting to assault a woman, later identified as Stride. A passer-by, Israel Schwartz, subsequently told police that he was scared off from intervening after the killer shouted “Lipski” at him, a local anti-Semitic term of abuse recalling a Hungarian Jew who had been hanged for murdering his wife the previous year.

The second came after he had murdered Eddowes when police discovered a bloody item of her clothing underneath freshly scrawled graffiti. The words — “the Juwes are the men that Will not be Blamed for nothing” — had been written on a block of flats on Goulston Street, most of whose residents were Jews. On the orders of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the graffiti was wiped clean before daybreak; a sign of the authorities’ concern that the embers of the anti-Semitic fire which had led to the “riot against the Jews” should not be stoked further, as the Ripper clearly intended they should be.

The brutality of the murders was designed not simply to shock, but also to tap that most ancient of anti-Semitic slanders, the “blood libel.” Two infamous European “blood libel” cases — the killing of a teenage girl at Tisza Eszlar in Hungary in 1883 and the murder of an allegedly pregnant young woman in Poland in 1881 — had received much attention in the British press in the years prior to the Ripper’s attacks.

Two infamous European ‘blood libel’ cases had received much attention in the British press in the years prior to the Ripper’s attacks.

Even when dismissed, the notion of the “blood libel” was frequently a feature of the reporting, particularly after the killing of Stride and Eddowes. These cases from the continent, Senise suggests, “gave the murderer the basis for his plot,” allowing him to appropriate “a racist slander, every bit as dangerous as a weapon.”

The press swiftly took the bait Jack the Ripper had laid, alluding to the fact that, as one newspaper put it, one would need to go to “the wilds of Hungary” to find crimes “more sickening and revolting” than those which had been committed in Whitechapel.

There was, indeed, some speculation at the time of the murders that, as the Jewish Chronicle put it in October 1888, “a deliberate attempt to connect the Jews with the Whitechapel murders” was underway.

‘Early on during the investigation, the police did countenance that someone was trying to frame the Jewish community’

“Early on during the investigation, the police did countenance that someone was trying to frame the Jewish community,” says Senise.

But Senise does not simply have a motive — he also has a suspect, a man who would reveal himself after the Ripper claimed his fifth victim, Mary Jane Kelly, just over a month after he had last struck.

The killing was his most brutal and his victim much younger and more attractive than those he had hitherto targeted. Kelly’s killing, speculates Senise, may have been intended to draw comparisons with the much reported recent grisly murder of two teenage sisters in Moravia, a crime which had parallels with those in Hungary and Poland which the press had previously salivated over.

On the day that the inquest into Kelly’s murder was concluded — timing that was possibly far from accidental, as it allowed his story to avoid scrutiny by the coroner — George Hutchinson, a young man in his late 20s, walked into the Commercial Road police station, claiming to have seen Kelly with a man on the night of her killing.

Petticoat Lane, London in the 1920s. (Public domain)

His account provided color and detail no other purported witness could match, a fact that almost immediately provoked skepticism. Crucially, however, Hutchinson said that the man he had seen Kelly cavorting with prior to her death was “of Jewish appearance.” Later expanding his story for the press, Hutchinson slyly claimed that he had previously seen the man on Petticoat Lane — described in one contemporary book as “the stronghold of hard-shell Judaism” — and a reference that few readers at the time would not have grasped the significance of.

Hutchinson’s statements, Senise asserts, cleverly revived elements of the “Leather Apron” story, threw potentially useful chaff into the police inquiry should he himself become a suspect, and — in contradiction to the other principal eyewitness account from that night and, indeed, all others made in connection to the five killings — suggested Kelly’s attacker was a Jew.

'Jewbaiter Jack the Ripper' author Stephen Senise. (Courtesy)

Senise has painstakingly tracked Hutchinson’s movements. An underemployed laborer, he lived at the Victoria Home for Working Men on Commercial Street, close to Petticoat Lane in the heart of the Jewish community. The salubrious Victoria Home, moreover, was strategically placed in terms of the places where the Ripper struck, as well as the pubs and boarding houses where he may well have spied upon, and staked out, his victims. Hutchinson’s depiction of the man he supposedly saw with Kelly on the night of her death as a wealthy Jew, Senise claims, gives an insight into the racial and class hatred which drove his crimes.

However, when helping his daughter with a history project looking at key witnesses to the Ripper’s crimes, Senise uncovered a trail which brought him rather closer to home than he had expected.

Hutchinson, he is confident, fled the scene of his crimes the following summer, using the opportunity created by the Great London Dock Strike of 1889 to join a union-busting crew aboard a ship bound for Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Hutchinson then disappeared, re-emerging seven years later, Senise has discovered, when he was convicted and jailed for sexually assaulting two young boys.

The photograph and physical description of Prisoner 1166 he uncovered from the New South Wales State Archives bears an uncanny resemblance not only to sketches of Hutchinson made at the time he interjected himself into the case following Kelly’s murder — but also to many of the witness statements collected by police in their hunt for Jack the Ripper. The case, Senise now hopes, “has finally started to give up its ghosts.”

UAE TO UN: AL JAZEERA ANTISEMITIC, PROMOTES TERRORISM (LOL….)

 

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash has accused Qatari broadcast network Al Jazeera of promoting antisemitism, supporting terrorist groups, and incitement to violence.

Gargash made the remarks in a letter written Sunday and made public Wednesday on the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s website.

The four-page letter was addressed to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, as a rebuttal to the UN Special Rapporteur’s statement on June 30, that recent demands to close Al Jazeera breached rights of freedom of expression.

 

Gargash defended demands to close the network by explaining that, “Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives.” He also added that, “It is the international community’s responsibility to remain vigilant as the media and new technologies are being exploited by terrorists and their supporters to disseminate extremist ideologies, as well as mobilizing, recruiting, inspiring followers, and raising funding.”

The UAE minister further stated that, “Al Jazeera is a platform for spreading terrorist ideology,” by conducting interviews with leaders of various terror organizations such as Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki of al-Qaida, Khaled Mashal and Mohammed Deif of Hamas, and Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah.

Gargash also accused Al Jazeera of promoting antisemitic violence in its programming, citing comments by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi in one of his broadcast sermons on the Qatar-based network. According to Gargash, Qaradawi “described the Holocaust as ‘divine punishment’ during which ‘Hitler… put [the Jews] in their place.’”

This comes after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Maldives and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in early June, including the state-funded satellite television network. Reports that Israel was considering shutting down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office also surfaced in June.

Hungary to pull ‘anti-Semitic’ Soros campaign ahead of Netanyahu visit

The Hungarian government said Wednesday it will end a billboard campaign against Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros deemed “anti-Semitic,” three days before before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the country.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community have said the campaign is provoking anti-Semitism.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” and Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

On Tuesday, Soros released a rare statement saying he was “distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

In a statement the government said that the anti-Soros campaign had reached its goals and was no longer necessary, according to Hungarian news outlets. The statement noted that a new law regulating the display of political posters in public places was due to come into effect on July 15.

Hungarian television network ATV cited Wednesday a leading member of the Orban’s ruling Fidesz party as saying Netanyahu’s upcoming visit prompted the move as well as preparations for an international water polo tournament scheduled to start on Thursday.

Netanyahu will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister is Viktor Orban in the capital Budapest in what will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary slammed the campaign over the weekend for “sowing hatred” and suggested it evokes memories of the Holocaust.

However, on Sunday the Foreign Ministry clarified that while it condemns bigotry against Jews, it was not defending Soros, who it described as defaming Israel and undermining its right to defend itself.

Hungarian Pime Minister Viktor Orban gives a joint press conference in Budapest on July 4, 2017 during a summit of the Visegrad group countries and Egypt. (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in the statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” Nahshon added.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the walk-back came at the behest of Netanyahu.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

Anti-Semitic incidents jolt New Jersey town buffeted by welfare scam

A Holocaust memorial outside a synagogue in Lakewood, New Jersey, was covered with an anti-Semitic banner on Sunday, hours after anti-Semitic flyers were found placed on car windshields in the area. Both had a link to the same white supremacist website.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted an image of the monument, which is outside the Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue, draped with a white cloth banner emblazoned with an anti-Semitic term for Jews. “Heebs will not divide us,” it read.

The banner included a link to the website of “Vanguard America,” a white supremacist group.

“Brazen anti-Semitic hate on full display as #Holocaust memorial in #Lakewood is defaced,” ADL tweeted. The group’s tweet itself drew further anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying responses on Twitter.

View image on Twitter

Brazen anti-Semitic hate on full display as memorial in  is defaced

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino described the act as “sickening,” and offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

This is sickening. $10k reward for bias crime info and conviction. Please help: http://www.nj.gov/oag/bias/  or call 1-877-277-2427 with tips https://twitter.com/adl_nj/status/881567556041138176 

Earlier, anti-Semitic leaflets with the same web address were distributed throughout Lakewood, which has a very large ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.

The flyers followed the arrest of several local Jewish couples on charges of benefit fraud. The poster had photos of some of those arrested and warned of “thieving Jews near you.”

“These Jews, including a rabbi, lied about their income in order to steal millions in public benefits,” the flyer read.

It then went on to state that “1.4% of the American population is Jewish. 48% of American billionaires are Jewish. Does crime pay for Jews?” It ended with a link to the Vanguard America website.

Gregory Meyer, head of the Lakewood police force, said the incidents were likely connected to the arrests.

“We do believe that this recent rash of anti-Semitic incidents is directly related to the recent arrests in our town,” he said, according to the Asbury Park Press. “We have not had any other incidents before.”

In August, swastikas and “Heil Hitler” grafitti was found at a Jewish school in the town.

Illustrative: A swastika spray-painted at a playground in Lakewood, New Jersey, August 2016. (APP)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are thought to make up 60 percent of Lakewood’s population of around 100,000.

Since 1943, the suburb has been the home of the Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the world’s largest yeshivas with a student body of about 6,500.

Students at the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey. (YouTube screenshot)

At least seven couples in the community’s ultra-Orthodox community were arrested last week on charges of illegally obtaining some $2 million in government benefits. Some of the couples are alleged to have hidden millions of dollars in assets while collecting Medicaid and other benefits.

Seven couples were arrested last week in Lakewood, including Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, of Congregation Lutzk, and his wife, Tzipporah.

Three of the couples — Yitzchock and Sora Kanarek, Chaim and Liatt Ehrman, and William and Faigy Friedman — were released without bail after appearing through video conference in state court Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.

Three Lakewood couples arrested on charges of benefits fraud, June 28, 2017. (Courtesy of Ocean County Jail)

Prosecutors say the three couples misrepresented their income and then collected more than $674,000 in benefits. They say the couples failed to disclose income from numerous sources on applications for Medicaid, housing, Social Security and food assistance benefits.

Yitzchock Kanarek previously ran a school in Lakewood for special-needs students that closed in 2015 after facing more than $250,000 in federal and state tax liens, according to public records.

“It really bothers me when people take advantage of programs like this,” Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles told the Asbury Park Press. “I have a waiting list of Section 8 (housing assistance) vouchers of maybe 2,000 families that really need it. I hate to see things like this.”

Duvi Honig, who leads the Lakewood-based Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper that thousands of Jewish families in Lakewood need public assistance but some are tempted to take more than they need.

Six Lakewood residents accused of benefits fraud appear in Ocean County Superior Court via video conference, June 28, 2017. (Screen capture: Asbury Park Press video)

“The pressure of the community overhead — especially the (cost of) private schooling — is unsustainable,” he said. “People are forced to find ways to bend the system.”

Lakewood is the state’s fastest growing town and has more than 100 private religious schools. The population increase has intensified concern over how public money is spent and sparked complaints from neighboring communities that say they face overly aggressive solicitation from real estate agents looking to find homes for the Jewish community.

The town had nearly 93,000 residents in 2010, up from about 32,000 more than a decade earlier, according to census figures. Lakewood officials estimate the population is now closer to 120,000 residents.

The Sorotzkins were charged with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors say they weren’t entitled to. Their attorney said they will plead not guilty.

They were charged in state court along with Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, who prosecutors said collected more than $585,000 in benefits they weren’t entitled to.

Zalmen Sorotzkin’s brother, Mordechai, and his wife, Rachel, were one of two couples charged in separate federal complaints with conspiring to fraudulently obtain Medicaid benefits.

Orthodox Jews in Lakewood, New Jersey. (Screen capture: YouTube)

They made more than $1 million in 2012 and in 2013, the complaint alleges, but still received more than $96,000 in Medicaid benefits, including $22,000 to pay for medical expenses when their sixth child was born in November 2013.

“Everything is going to work out and all will be vindicated,” said Rachel Sorotzkin’s attorney, Fred Zemel.

According to a federal complaint, Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum hid their income by creating companies that were run by relatives on paper but that the couple actually controlled. They made a total of $1.8 million in 2013, but still received Medicaid, food benefits and housing assistance into 2014, prosecutors said.

Anti-Semitic, racist Reddit user behind Trump anti-CNN tweet

A user of an alt-right forum on the social news site Reddit who has posted anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and racist items has claimed credit for a video tweeted by US President Donald Trump Sunday to attack the media.

The clip shows Trump wrestling to the ground and beating a “villain” –Vince McMahon, the owner and promoter of World Wrestling Entertainment.

It was part of a promotion ten years ago at the WrestleMania 23 event dubbed “The Battle of the Billionaires.”

McMahon’s wife, Linda, who founded and built the company with her husband, now heads the Small Business Administration for Trump and was a generous benefactor to his campaign.

In Trump’s version, McMahon’s face has been superimposed with the CNN logo and the logo FNN –Fraud News Network — appears on the screen toward the end. The clip is titled, “Trump takes down fake news.”

It was not clear whether that was where the clip originated or where Trump found it, but Reddit user HanAssh*leSolo claimed credit and appeared to be the first to post it, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The Reddit user posts on r/The_Donald, a Reddit subgroup used by people who idolize the president and enjoy insulting those they perceive to be his enemies.

Among his previous posts was one in which he portrayed dozens of portraits of CNN personalities, each with a Jewish star of David superimposed.

View image on Twitter

Here’s another meme from the guy Trump tweeted, this one showing CNN personalities with Jewish stars.

In another, he recalled visiting Paris carrying “punch blades sewn into my pockets” in case a Muslim attacked him. Any attacker would get “an immediate punch to the neck with 2 inches of titanium embedded in their throat,” he wrote.

He also posted comments such as “screw Islam,” called the prophet Mohammed a pedophile, appeared to defend the Ku Klux Klan, and made other derogatory comments about black people and Jews.

The user, who described himself as a former Microsoft administrator, said he was “honored” for Trump, the “MAGA EMPORER himself” to have used his post.

The tweet is the latest in a series in which the US president attacks the media. Coming a week after the president’s unbridled Twitter attacks on two MSNBC talk show hosts, it drew widespread condemnation from the media and from members of both political parties.

The president in the past has branded the media as “the opposition party” and “the enemy of the American people.” He has taken particular aim at CNN, calling the network “fake news.”

Trump stayed on the attack later in the day, stating on Twitter that “the dishonest media will NEVER keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our GREAT AMERICAN PEOPLE!”

Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, condemned the video as a “threat of physical violence against journalists.” He said Trump’s tweet was “beneath the office of the presidency.”

A White House aide insisted the tweet should not send a chill across the media landscape.

“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat,” homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said. “I hope they don’t. But I do think that he’s beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.”

CNN accused Trump of engaging in “juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office.”

White House officials traveling with Trump during his weekend stay at his New Jersey golf club did not immediately respond to questions about who made the video or about any message the president might have intended to send.

The president’s verbal shots against news outlets and individual members of the media have grown increasingly personal in recent days even as lawmakers in both parties say the insults only threaten to undermine his political agenda.

Trump has singled out MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and CNN for some of his most biting criticism, and hardly is backing down in the face of widespread condemnation from the political class.

“The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not,” Trump told a supportive crowd Saturday in Washington.

A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, told reporters last week that Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”

CNN, in its response to the video posted Sunday, said it was “a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so.”

CNN’s statement noted the weighty list of issues before Trump — an overseas trip this week that includes a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the stalled health care bill, the threat from North Korea. Instead of focusing on those matters, CNN said, “he is involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

Trump’s latest tweet came as Republicans and Democrats have been imploring him to focus on leading the country, rather than exploding on social media.

For days, Trump has focused his ire on Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to call Brzezinski “crazy” and contend she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he once saw them at his Florida estate. The comment was decried as sexist and vulgar by many Democrats and Republicans.

The MSNBC personalities said Friday that Trump was lying about their December encounter and they questioned his “unhealthy obsession” with their program.

The hosts, who are a couple onscreen and off, also said the White House told them a damaging National Enquirer story about their relationship would “go away” if they called the president and apologized for harsh commentary. Trump quickly disputed the claim on Twitter.

Republican officials acknowledged Sunday that Trump’s Twitter feed distracts from work like health care.

“We in Washington, we in the country, cannot be focused on tweets,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., adding that “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.”

Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said he hoped Trump’s family would talk to him and say, “Knock it off.”

“The coarseness doesn’t help anybody,” he said.

Bossert and Kasich appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Cassidy was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

UK LAWMAKER RECALLS ANTISEMITIC ABUSE DURING GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

A British lawmaker claimed that she was the target of antisemitic abuse during the UK general election after discovering several of her campaign posters were vandalized with swastikas, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Conservative MP Sheryll Murray recalled the experience during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament, saying that her campaign offices were also urinated on in the midst of the campaign season.

“Over the past months, I’ve had swastikas carved into posters,” Murray, a Conservative Friends of Israel supporter, announced during the first PMQ held since May won a narrow victory against Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month.

Murray said she was “sickened” by the experience, and noted that the “symbol is incredibly offensive to both Jews who lost so many and the British who stood firm against its tyranny.”

The Conservative MP entreated the prime minister on “what can be done to stop this intimidation,” which she quipped was “hardly kinder, gentler politics.”

The prime minister replied: “She was not the only person who experienced this sort of intimidation during the election campaign.”

“Particularly…this sort of intimidation was experienced by female candidates.”

“I believe that this sort of behavior has no place in our democracy…and it could put good people off from serving in this House,” the prime minister added.

The issue of rising antisemitism on UK campuses was also discussed during Wednesday’s PMQ session, with Conservative MP Anne Main bringing the matter to the attention of the premier.

In response, May praised the work of the Community Security Trust and others in combating antisemitism and Islamophobia, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

How neo-Nazis exploit Instagram to spread antisemitic memes

Neo-Nazis are exploiting a gap in the community guidelines of the photo-sharing platform Instagram.

Faith Matters investigation has uncovered a clandestine network of individuals spreading antisemitic memes on the platform. The self-styled ‘Pro Defamation League’ (Pro_Defamation_League) account, for example, has not been removed from Instagram, despite having several posts removed for breaching Community Guidelines.

As with any self-reporting platform, Instagram requires its user base to report harmful and hateful content. Instagram makes clear in its Community Guidelines that it “is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organized crime, or hate groups.” The guidelines stress a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech, but may allow its publication if the purpose of it being shared is “to challenge it or to raise awareness”.

Yet, the Pro_Defamation_League account serves no positive function. It’s just the unfettered, unfiltered and unrepentant antisemitism one expects to find on neo-Nazi forums, hate sites, and the dark corners of 4Chan. But on Instagram, old hatreds are repackaged as hateful, violent memes.

A second problem with reporting hateful content on Instagram concerns its reporting protocols. Users can report hate speech, but it falls within the broad category of ‘Bullying and Harassment’.

Accounts like Pro_Defamation_League avoid targeting Jewish users directly to avoid breaching Community Guidelines. Yet, their true intent is self-evident, and ultimately harmful.

Perhaps the most popular image in this network concerns the ‘antisemitic meme of the Jew’. According the Australian charity, the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI), this racist caricature is over a decade old. It depicts a bearded Jewish man with a long-hooked nose. The author of this image uses the pseudonym “A. Wyatt Mann”. His identity has been the subject of speculation, denial and counter-claims. Its original iteration had compared Jewish and black communities to rats and cockroaches. It appeared on the White Aryan Resistance hate site in 2004.

Now in 2017, its stock as a meme continues to endure, thanks in part to its re-appropriation and plagiarism on social media. One such example includes a post made by the Pro_Defamation_League on January 10, 2017. This antisemitic meme of a Jewish man is doctored onto an image of the goat-headed winged hermaphrodite known as Baphomet. The origins of Baphomet date back to the time of the Crusades and the torture of the Knights Templar. According to French chroniclers, the Knights Templar confessed to worshipping this idol.

Yet, the doctored image of Baphomet concerns the 1856 drawing by French occultist Eliphas Levi. But an image search confirms that the image pre-dates the Pro_Defemation_League account. An online search of the term “Jewphomet” pulls you deeper into the antisemitic rabbit hole. It brings you to the hate site the “International Goyim Party”. A site who posted the “Jewphomet” image on July 26, 2015.

A secondary example of plagiarism found on pages like the Pro_Defamation_League concerns Ben Garrison. Writing for the OHPI in 2014, Mr Garrison detailed how neo-Nazis often steal his cartoons to reinforce antisemitic canards. Yet, as Sarah Brown pointed out in 2014, Mr Garrison is perhaps “unaware of the connotations of the words and images he uses.”

Other memes circulate toxic conspiracies about Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks and other international acts of terrorism. The Holocaust is ridiculed and outright denied. Memes about Israel are often interchangeable in their antisemitic intent.

Michael Barkun’s ‘A Culture of Conspiracy’ outlines how the internet erodes our ability to distinguish between mainstream and fringe news sources. For individuals drawn to racist ideologies, the internet functions as means to build communities, network, and reinforce echo chambers. It’s one of the reasons why Stormfront became so successful and notorious after its launch in 1995.

The inherent social nature of platforms like Instagram, arguably, intensifies such online behaviour, which in the end, reinforce certain echo chambers.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that one such account the Pro_Defamation_League follows is the ‘zionist-report,’ a page which borrows from the same script: where Israel and Jewish communities are behind major acts of terrorism or in control of politics. An example of this antisemitic canard invokes the Nazi-era propaganda of the octopus. Nazi propaganda of this era had warned against the ‘Jewish octopus of Bolshevism’. Now their political enemies of the twentieth century are reimagined for modern audiences. This canard replaces the Bolsheviks with “pro-Zionist eurocrats in Brussels”. This intends to pacify and normalise its overt antisemitic message.

Nor does it take long to find Holocaust denial to appear on the account. On December 10, 2016, the account posted: “Tell me #lies, tell me sweet little #lies. The #AnnFrank story is just another piece of the #Holohoax industry.”

Example from the zionist_report Instagram page.

 

The meme adds that ballpoint pens were not invented until 1951. This theory took on a life of its own decades later in extreme-right circles. But it was later discredited during a trial of neo-Nazis in Wiesbaden, West Germany, in 1980.

Researchers from the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation forensically authenticated Anne Frank’s diary in the 1980s. Miss Frank did most of her writings in grey-blue ink for fountain pens in which iron was present. The manufacturing of fountain pen ink without iron or trace amounts of iron were not introduced until after 1950. The two-pages of ballpoint annotations were not added until the graphological study of Anne Frank’s writings in 1960. In 2016, federal police in Germany issued a press release stating that their 1980 investigation cannot be used to question the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diary.

That one example of a Holocaust denial received 80 ‘likes’. This number may seem small, but it should not be dismissed. While the hashtag #Holohoax only contains 9 posts, other similar hashtags are proving more popular on Instagram. The hashtag #holohoaxexposed, for example, appears 353 times on Instagram. Its enduring appeal owes in part to the nature of underground subcultures. This is partly achieved with unrelated hashtags. Some spread Holocaust denial with the hashtag #911wasaninsidejob – a hashtag with over 56,000 posts. It may not guarantee success, but it exposes individuals to unfamiliar ideas, which they may accept under the umbrella concept of ‘stigmatized knowledge’. In short, this theory suggeststhat this form of knowledge appears compelling because of its faux empiricism and the promise of knowledge which remains ‘valid’ despite its rejection from mainstream institutions.

Dr Nicholas Terry, a history lecturer at Exeter University, warns that Holocaust deniers are recruiting individuals drawn to other conspiracy theories such as the Sandy Hook school massacre.

In response to the Faith Matters investigation, an Instagram spokesman said: “There is no place for hate speech on Instagram.

We review all reports and move quickly to remove content that violates our Community Guidelines.”

Instagram has now removed the accounts @national.socialism1933 and @redpillprincess1 for breaches of community standards.

The company urges members of the public to report offensive content or profiles for review. Instagram has reassured Faith Matters that the review team monitor content daily and will not hesitate to remove content when it is found to breach community guidelines.

Anti-Semitic messages painted on Romanian synagogue

(JTA) — Anti-Semitic messages were found painted on the wall of a synagogue in Romania.

“Holocaust Never Happened” and “All the Best” with a Star of David were painted in black and red on the outside of the Synagogue of Deportees Memorial Temple in Cluj-Napoca, in northwestern Romania.

Police were called about the graffiti on Monday by representatives of the city’s Jewish community, though the vandalism may have taken place over the weekend, according to local reports.

Though the synagogue is located on a main thoroughfare in the city, no witnesses have come forward with information about the vandalism.

Built in 1886, the synagogue was destroyed during Allied bombardments in June 1944. It was rebuilt and reinaugurated in 1947, when it was dedicated to the memory of the over 16,000 Jews deported from Cluj in May-June 1944 and exterminated in Auschwitz.

The area’s Jewish community of about 400 uses the synagogue.