Monthly Archives: February 2019

Anti-Semitism in the Age of Trump

by Laurie Zimmerman, The Progressive, February 1, 2019

A new U.S. embassy. A snapshot of high schoolers giving the Nazi salute. A march of chanting Neo-Nazis. A shooting at a synagogue on Shabbat. What does anti-Semitism look like in today’s America?

“I have a message for the rabbi,” sputtered the voice as I picked up the phone.

“I am the rabbi,” I responded.

Surprised to be speaking directly to me, the caller continued: “I want to tell you what I think about what you said about those boys in Baraboo.”

He was referring to the talk I gave at Baraboo High School in south-central Wisconsin on November 19, after a photograph circulated on social media of a large group of boys posing in a Nazi salute. I had been invited to speak at a community gathering. My congregants were the school’s only two Jewish students.

“They weren’t doing a Nazi salute,” the caller argued defensively.

“Actually, some of them were.” I explained that several boys had already come forward to apologize.

“Well, they didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Maybe, but real harm was still done.”

“They were having fun. Can’t you just laugh it off? It wasn’t like they were wearing brown uniforms.”

It’s true, they weren’t wearing brown uniforms. But my, how our standards have fallen, I thought.

The next day, an old friend sent me a link to an op-ed, “Europe’s Jew Hatred, and Ours,” by Bari Weiss, a conservative New York Times writer.

Weiss begins by addressing European anti-Semitism and then pivots to the United States. While she briefly acknowledges that the biggest threat to American Jews comes from the far right, she spends far more time highlighting Muslim attacks on Jews and deplores the “hatred from the left, which comes cloaked in the language of progressive values.” Weiss concludes by vaguely insinuating that this is what will lead to another Holocaust.

While some Muslims, like others, hold anti-Semitic views, and conspiracy theorists have historically found a political home on the left, I believe that white supremacy poses a far greater threat to American Jews. At a time when President Donald Trump is condoning anti-Semitism and imparting legitimacy to white nationalists, we should focus our efforts to fight anti-Semitism on those who have the potential to cause us the greatest harm….

continue reading at The Progressive

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What Swings the Swing Voter?

by Les Leopold, Common Dreams, 2/13/19

Today, a similar common denominator unites every identity group with every economic populist: All have much to gain from policies that address rising inequality

According to conventional wisdom, the Democrats must appeal to middle-of-the-road swing voters in order to defeat Trump in 2020. Supposedly these voters want a moderate who “crosses the partisan divide,” “finds common ground with all classes and income groups,” “removes barriers to advancement,” “builds public/private partnerships,” “works for the common good against all special interests,” “avoids the extremes of the right and the left,” and “shuns costly pie-in-the-sky programs.”

Wrong.

Mounting evidence suggests that the swing voter is one who faces the stark daily realities of rising inequality and all its related issues — expensive or non-existent health care, astronomical student debt, unaffordable housing, and a generation’s worth of wage stagnation. As the New York Times recently reports (“For Democrats Aiming Taxes at the Superrich, ‘the Moment Belongs to the Bold’”)

The soak-the-rich plans — ones that were only recently considered ridiculously far-fetched or political poison — have received serious and sober treatment, even by critics, and remarkably broad encouragement from the electorate. Roughly three out of four registered voters surveyed in recent polls supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Even a majority of Republicans back higher rates on those earning more than $10 million, according to a Fox News poll conducted in mid-January….

continue reading at Common Dreams

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International Law Under Threat—An Analysis

by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses, 2/8/19

Several recent events suggest that global warming is not the only thing threatening our future. As if they are running on parallel tracks, some of the modern institutions that help make for stable societies—the ones that hold back the rise of barbarism—are being weakened even as the atmosphere is heating up and the oceans swell. In pursuit of short-term state or personal interests, some national leaders are violating or ignoring international law and, by doing so, putting us all at long-term risk.

Part I—The First Example: Subverting the International Criminal Court

One of the most hopeful developments to follow the catastrophe that was World War II—the war that brought the world the Holocaust, the Blitzkrieg, the carpet bombing of Europe, and the use of nuclear bombs against large cities—was the extension and strengthening of international law. In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations, seeking to give such laws real force, called for the establishment of an international criminal court. That call triggered resistance because such a court would necessarily impinge on nation-state sovereignty. It took 54 years before the court was finally convened in order to enforce laws against the committing of war crimes and other evils, such as genocide.

Still, there are some nations that refuse to recognize the court’s jurisdiction. Often these are the states most addicted to the barbaric behavior that came close to destroying a good part of the globe during the 20th century. These governments now threaten the very workability of the court. Thus, on 28 January 2019 it was reported that “A senior judge has resigned from one of the international courts in The Hague” due to interference and threats coming from both the U.S. and Turkey. The judge’s name is Christoph Flügge.

In the case of the United States, the problem began when the International Criminal Court at the Hague decided to investigate allegations of war crimes, specifically the use of torture, committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. At that point President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton (who reminds one of a modern Savonarola when it comes to ideological enforcement), publicly threatened the court’s judges. “If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the US or investigate an American citizen,” he said, “the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States—and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted.”…

read more at To the Point Analyses

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