FACTS, says Trump, are what I want. He doesn’t like the ones he’s seen

This posting has these items:
1) Al Monitor: The Israeli right’s hypocrisy on discrimination, veteran commentator Akiva Eldar lists the many laws passed in Israel which discriminate against Palestinians;
2) WP: Israel prime minister’s response to Charlottesville rally has been muted, Normally so quick to pass judgment the Israeli PM, like the POTUS, had nothing to say until sharply prodded;
3) New Arab: Jews must respect me’ says neo-Nazi Richard Spencer after white supremacist riots;
4) The Atlantic: ‘Before I Make a Statement, I Need the Facts’, the idea that Pres. Trump waits circumspectly before commenting (tweeting) on any issue is laughable.

FACT: the ones with the helmets on are white nationalists and have obviously come looking for a fight.

The Israeli right’s hypocrisy on discrimination

Israeli right-wing politicians, though quick to criticize others for what they deem antisemitism, support discrimination against Arabs.

By Akiva Eldar, trans. Ruti Sinai, Al Monitor, Israeli Pulse
August 17, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocked by the manifestations of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism in Charlottesville. “Everyone should oppose this hatred,” Netanyahu wrote on the prime minister’s official English-language Twitter account Aug. 15. The same Netanyahu warned the public on the day of the March 2015 elections that Israel’s Arab citizens, who ostensibly enjoy full equality, were “flocking in droves to the polling stations.”

As always, Netanyahu’s response followed closely on the heels of calls by his coalition partner/rival Naftali Bennett, the head of the HaBayit HaYehudi party, demanding that US leaders condemn the latest displays of antisemitism. Bennett, the politician who headed up the chorus pleading for a pardon for Elor Azaria, the Israel Defence Forces soldier convicted of shooting dead a wounded, unarmed Palestinian terrorist. If the executed terrorist had not been named Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, but rather Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish settler who massacred 29 Muslim worshippers in 1994 in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, not a single patriotic politician would have sided with the soldier.

Bennett’s Knesset faction includes Bezalel Smotrich, the lawmaker who demanded the separation of Jewish and Arab women in hospital maternity wards last year. Netanyahu and Bennett both lead parties that refuse to recognize the rights of millions of Palestinians to a state of their own, because they were not born to Jewish mothers nor converted according to the laws of the ultra-Orthodox, who constitute a minority stream within Judaism.

Look who’s talking, or, as the Talmud put it, “Remove the beam from between your eyes” (Arakin 16b). The beam is so thick that it blinds leaders of the political right to the image of their own shameful racist selves. The Israeli leadership exudes a stench of racism. The Jewish alt-right occupies the seat of government and the front benches of the legislature. From those perches it devises initiative after initiative that are anathema to those on the right, such as Likud Party Knesset member Benny Begin, who hold dear the principles of democracy. Following are two blatant instances of racism that Begin has lambasted through the media.

Begin has been trying — to no avail — to convince the prime minister and his friends in the Likud leadership to append a commitment to the contentious proposed Nationality Law, saying that the State of Israel would provide equal rights to all its citizens. Writing in June in the right-wing newspaper Yisrael Hayom, Begin noted that about one-quarter of the citizens of Israel are not Jews.

“As Jews we have always demanded and continue to demand equal rights for Jews in all countries, and now we are refusing to anchor this right in our law for all our citizens?” he wrote. The man who Netanyahu insisted on including in the Likud’s Knesset list continued, “When the 2017 Likud leadership disqualifies a proposed bill, according to which Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, simply because it also stipulates equal rights for all its citizens, the ‘Likud’s alleged problem’ with the legislation becomes a national problem that lies in its rejection.”

The Nationality Law not only anchors the supremacy of the Jewish people and skips over the principle of equal rights for all citizens, the bill also precludes equal rights for all Jews, such as Reform and conservative Jews, by referring to “Jewish tradition” implying that of Orthodox Jewry.

So while Netanyahu is shocked by the racism in Virginia directed at American Jews, he ignores the abundant promises he gave the heads of the Reform and conservative communities, who constitute a vast majority of US Jewry, to grant them equal rights in prayers at Judaism’s holiest site, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and in religious conversions. Netanyahu has retracted from a compromise outline reached last year, allocating progressive Judaism a prayer space by the Western Wall.

Another racist chapter in the annals of Israeli legislation was written by the Knesset’s approval earlier this year of the Regularization Law that essentially grants Jewish people the right to steal the land of another people (by legalizing West Bank outposts constructed on private Palestinian lands). “This law casts a long shadow over the entire state because its aim is not to regulate, it’s to steal,” Begin said in September 2016 of the bill that allows Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to take over Palestinian land. “Any person with eyes in their head who wants to behave with even an iota of decency accepts the saying of Hillel the Elder, ‘What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow,’” the right-wing Knesset member said.

There is undoubtedly reason to criticize the conduct of US President Donald Trump following the racist violence in Virginia; there is undoubtedly room for firm action against racist groups and individuals who abuse the First Amendment of the constitution.

But to paraphrase our sages, “Clean up your act before you go off preaching to others” (Baba Batra 60b). Elected Israeli officials, who demand of foreign leaders zero tolerance toward displays of antisemitism, are hardly beacons of tolerance.

While American activists of the alt-right are only found on the margins of society, the alt-right rabbis in Israel are sitting pretty at the heart of the establishment. Rabbis who issued religious edicts calling on Jews to avoid renting or selling apartments to Arabs, not to employ them and not to buy from their shops, are still on the public payroll. Unlike Muslim clerics who are prosecuted for incitement to racism, Jewish ones enjoy de facto immunity from prosecution.

Shouts of “Death to Arabs” as well as “Slaughter the Jews” have become an integral part of football stadium folklore in recent years. Activists of the radical right Lehava organization openly harass Palestinian bus and cab drivers in Jerusalem and Arabs who dare befriend Jewish women, and even set fire to a bilingual Jewish-Arab school in the city, a bastion of coexistence. A 2011 law allows community selection committees to reject certain tenants on the grounds of a euphemistic “lack of suitability to the social-cultural nature of the community.”

The vast majority of Israeli Jews accept the refusal of a “progressive” community like Kochav Yair to open its pool to Arab children from neighbouring villages; politicians have not spoken out against this decision, either. Israelis preserve the right to shout at an insensitive Swiss hotel owner who asked Jewish guests to take a shower before going into the pool.

More than 150 years ago, US President Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Employing self-victimization mixed with copious amounts of hypocrisy, chutzpah and distorted self-awareness, Netanyahu manages to fool most of the Jews most of the time.

Israel prime minister’s response to Charlottesville rally has been muted

By Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post
August 17, 2017

JERUSALEM — As neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us,” one may have expected Israel’s response to be swift and unequivocal.

But as President Trump was being criticized in the United States for blaming violence on “both sides,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has styled himself as a leader of Jews everywhere, drew flak for giving no response at all.

On his Twitter account, he sent Independence Day greetings to India, highlighted security challenges posed by Iran and shared a video of himself signing an agreement to build 30,000 new apartments in the port city of Ashdod. But on Charlottesville, he was silent.

Trump’s presidency may have ushered in a climate where antisemitic attacks in the United States have spiked, but it has also put a vocal supporter of Israel in the White House after years of frayed relations during the Obama administration. That leaves Israel’s leadership walking a precarious line.

Netanyahu may have been reticent to speak out strongly before Trump, a newfound and staunch ally, did. But even when Trump finally criticized white supremacists and KKK members Monday for inciting violence, it still took Netanyahu another day to condemn the events. “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” the prime minister tweeted.

Analysts said Netanyahu’s muted response on Charlottesville may widen a growing schism between Israel and Jews in other parts of the world who feel directly threatened by the rise of fascism in the United States and Europe.

“It will strengthen the feeling among American Jews of distance from the current Israeli government,” said Jonathan Rynhold, a political scientist at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University.

American Jewish groups reacted with outrage to Trump’s comments on Tuesday night, when he said there were “fine people” among the far-right demonstrators and criticized the “alt-left” for inciting violence.

“Astonished,” tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the AntiDefamation League. “There are no 2 sides to this story. There are no ‘fine people’ in the ranks of Nazis. Legal permits do not bestow moral permission.”

However, Netanyahu’s eldest son, Yair Netanyahu, on Wednesday expressed concerns about the left-wing demonstrators, echoing Trump. For Israel, left-wing actions such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which aim to isolate Israel to pressure it to end the occupation, among other things, have long been an issue.

“I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazi scums in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out,” the 26-year-old wrote on Facebook. “However the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

Oren Hazan, a Knesset member from Netanyahu’s party, also said Trump was right to criticize both sides.
Netanyahu’s right-wing rival, Naftali Bennett, was the only prominent politician to immediately condemn the events over the weekend. After Trump’s comments Tuesday, others joined him.

“When Neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville and scream slogans against Jews and in support of white supremacy, the condemnation has to be unambiguous,” Yair Lapid, chairman of Yesh Atid, one of the largest opposition factions in Israel’s parliament, said in a statement.

Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas on December 6, 2016. The far right has organised methodically to recruit and radicalise conservative students. Photo by David J. Phillip /AP

Jews must respect me’ says neo-Nazi Richard Spencer after white supremacist riots

The New Arab
August 17, 2017

Spencer complained about Jews being ‘vastly overrepresented in what you could call the establishment’ and then demanded they respect him

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer has told Israeli media that Jewish people should respect him after he was questioned over the rabid antisemitism on display during the Charlottesville riots over the weekend.

The riots began last Friday when hundreds of torch-wielding white nationalists marched at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Hours later on Saturday, a planned “Unite the Right” rally – billed as the largest gathering of its kind in years – marched through in the town.

Some demonstrators made Nazi salutes and shouted “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter” as they marched in protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E Lee.

A local Jewish leader said the local synagogue was a target for the neo-Nazi rioters. They had requested help from the police to keep worshippers safe on Saturday. The police rejected their request and the synagogue had to hire their own private guards.

Parades of neo-Nazis passed the building, chanting “Seig Heil” and similar Nazi-inspired antisemitic terms.

Some even carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

The aggressors carry a white shield with a black cross, the symbol of the League of the South, a far-right Southern nationalist group. The eagle is the aggressive black Roman Eagle used by German Nazis. 

Below, a poster for the Unite the Right rally combines imagery of Confederate flags and monuments, Pepe the Frog, as well as the Roman Eagle–reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Despite this, Spencer, who was present at the riots appeared on Israel’s Channel 2 to defend the anti-Semitic chants of the rioters – yet at the same time demanded Jewish people respect him and the demands of the white supremacist movement.

Spencer: “[Jews] are vastly over-represented in what you could call the establishment, that is, Ivy League-educated people who really determine policy – and white people are being disposed from this country,”

“The fact is, Jews, let’s be honest, Jews have been vastly over-represented in the historical left. Jews are vastly over-represented in the left right now.

“They’re vastly over-represented in what you could call the establishment, that is, Ivy League-educated people who really determine policy – and white people are being disposed from this country,” he said.

“So some in the crowd were making a statement. This is a free country. People are allowed to speak their mind.”

When he was asked how Israelis were expected to sympathise with what he was saying, Spencer’s reply became all the more problematic.

“As an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identit[?]y, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogous feelings about whites,” he said.

Spencer also said the growth of the white supremacist movement, which he identifies as “alt-right”, along with the election of US President Donald Trump, were “symptoms of a greater cause, and that is the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world”.

On Wednesday evening, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin published an open letter to Jewish communities in the United States, pledging solidarity.

“The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag – perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism – paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief,” he wrote.

White nationalists use their shields, adorned with the black cross of the “Southern Nationalist” /League of the South flag as a battering ram against counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

‘Before I Make a Statement, I Need the Facts’

President Trump responded quickly to a terrorist attack in Barcelona, but waited to condemn the one in Charlottesville.

By Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic
August 17, 2017

President Trump said on Tuesday that he waited days to condemn the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, because he wanted to get all the facts. Trump has not explicitly described as terrorism the attack that took place there, which like today’s Barcelona attack involved a vehicle striking pedestrians.

In response to a question about whether it met the definition of terrorism, given the by-then widely reported extremist right-wing political ideology of the attacker, Trump said: “You can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want.” He described the debate over the term, which according to most definitions involves politically motivated violence designed to inspire fear, as “legal semantics.” But now it’s Thursday, and just hours after reports emerged of a fatal attack in Barcelona, Trump took to Twitter to call it terror, and prescribed a solution to eliminate “radical Islamic terror” based on a historical falsehood.

By Sunday, a day after the attack in Charlottesville that killed one person amid a demonstration including far-right and neo-Nazi groups, reports had already emerged of the suspected attackers’ white-supremacist ideology and fascination with Nazis. It took Trump a day to condemn neo-Nazis in a statement on Monday, and another day to equivocate on the definition of “terrorism.” In Barcelona, the attacker used his van to strike pedestrians in a tourist zone on Thursday, and within hours Spanish authorities had a suspect in custody whom they identified as a Moroccan-born man. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack online—but not until after the U.S. president had declared his certainty about the motivations of the culprit.

Trump is right about the virtues of waiting for information before declaring a seemingly violent event a terrorist attack—not least because some such events prove to be accidents or “ordinary” crimes, and invoking terrorists in such instances risks exaggerating their power. In the case of the Barcelona attack, it could be that the president had access to classified intelligence the general public did not, and saw fit to share the information on Twitter. We in the media typically rely on official confirmation of motives behind attacks to attribute them to an individual or group. Trump’s public statements on attacks could serve as a confirmation of motive.

Trump, in fact, is among the first world leaders to chime in whenever there’s a terrorist attack—well before the authorities in those countries have labeled the attack as terrorism. But he has sometimes called them terrorism even when they were not—as in the case of a fatal incident in a Philippines resort that authorities called a robbery—or when they simply didn’t happen, as when he seemed to make up a terrorist attack in Sweden in February.

Trump has also used attacks as an opportunity to criticize local responses, as he did when he misquoted Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London as having said there was “no reason to be alarmed” after a June attack that killed eight people; Khan had actually been telling Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased police presence. Trump has also used attacks to criticize France’s immigration policies and Germany’s refugee policy, and to make political predictions, as he did following an April attack in Paris, which he tweeted “will have a big effect on presidential election!” It did not. (And as I’ve reported previously, it’s not clear it ever does.)

Although terrorism remains an important challenge for many countries around the world, attributing successes to terrorist groups—when there’s little evidence for it—can be counterproductive. For instance, al-Qaeda has been considerably weakened since the U.S. began the war on terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001, with most of its top leaders dead or dispersed. ISIS, which took over as the most prominent global jihadist enemy after al-Qaeda, is facing that same fate. It has lost much of the ground it controls in Iraq and Syria, and is now confined to areas around Syria’s Raqqa, its de facto capital, as reports keep emerging of the deaths of its leaders. The group no doubt continues to inspire people to carry out attacks across Europe and elsewhere, but its online reach may at this time be greater than its ability to plan and execute an operation overseas.

The caution Trump claims characterized his response to Charlottesville thus seems not to apply when it comes to attacks carried out by Islamists. It may well be that Trump sees Islamic terrorism as a greater threat than white-supremacist groups in the U.S. In fact, he has said it’s the biggest threat to Western civilization.

As Foreign Policy noted in June, the Department of Homeland Security has stripped funding from groups that fight neo-Nazi violence, in what the magazine called “another indication the Trump administration is turning away from its efforts to combat far-right violence, and refocusing the [countering violent extremism] programme to focus more on Islamic extremism.” A 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office, however, notes that in the 15 years between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2016, fatal attacks by far-right extremists outnumbered those by their jihadist counterparts, though the jihadist attacks killed more people.

But as my colleague Julia Ioffe pointed out this week Islamist terrorists and white supremacists have much in common:

The attack in Charlottesville, after all, used a signature ISIS technique, one that has also been espoused by the American far-right in targeting Black Lives Matter protesters. “Run them over,” they say. Or, “All lives splatter.” But for the differing death tolls, it looked a lot like the acts of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the man who ploughed an 18-wheeler into a crowded boardwalk in Nice

Similarly, despite the differences in jihadist and neo-Nazi, white-supremacist ideologies, the two movements and how they attract and retain followers are often studied side by side by scholars of extremism. When the problem of mass recruitment by jihadists emerged in the West, researchers turned for guidance to what they had learned studying the psychology, behaviour, and structure of neo-Nazi groups. “It’s an obvious comparison, absolutely,” says Jessica Stern, a leading scholar of terrorist groups.

Immediately after Charlottesville, Trump’s closest aides were unequivocal about what had happened. General H.R. McMaster, the national-security adviser, called it “terrorism.” Attorney General Jeff Session described it as “domestic terrorism.” Trump it would appear is still looking for facts.

“It is a very, very important process to me,” Trump said Tuesday of the virtue of patience. “It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”

© Copyright JFJFP 2017