Archive for Jews

Apartheid State Update

Not the apartheid state you were expecting….

But then, it never is:

The deputy speaker of the Swedish parliament caused an outrage by suggesting that Jews living in Sweden should ditch their identity if they wish to be considered Swedes.

The claim by Bjorn Soder, of the Sweden Democrats party, was made in an interview with a Swedish newspaper, according to the International Business Times.

In the interview, Soder said that “most Jewish people in Sweden left behind” their racial identity in order to assimilate.

He further said that it would be a problem if there were too many people in Sweden “who belong to other nations” and had non-Swedish identities. Paying immigrants to go home would also help to avoid “foreign enclaves” and instead “create a society with a common identity”, he said, according to remarks quoted by The Guardian.

Those of us familiar with the, ahem, social unrest, in Malmo might not disagree with him. Except he’s got the wrong Great World Religion. Estimates of 500,000 Muslims in Sweden date from 2009.

More recent counts (given the refugees from Islam’s many uncivil wars) put the number at 700,000.

There are 20,000 Jews.

That’s 2.8% the number of Muslims, 0.2% of the Swedish population overall.

And Jews are Sweden’s problem.

The leader of Sweden’s Jewish community condemned the remarks as “good old rightwing anti-Semitism”, saying that the comments conveyed a message that Jews were untrustworthy and could not be considered real Swedes, “exactly like in 1930s Germany” from which her grandfather had fled.

Lena Posner Körösi, president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, was quoted by The Guardian as having said the remarks showed “the mask is slipping” from the face of Sweden Democrats to reveal the essence of what they stand for.

“I am appalled that Sweden’s third largest party can express itself in this way about Jews and other minorities,” she said. “We have to take them really seriously. This not a small group of fanatics you can dismiss.”

Soder claimed in response the remarks were taken out of context.

Fair enough. Perhaps we should be more understanding. Look how his mother dresses him:

As people who believe in Israel as a Jewish state, we don’t object to Sweden as a Swedish state. But we would ask Sweden to be a little more discriminating (if that’s the word) toward whomever it is that threatens their Swedosity. In the Swedish body politic Jews are an earlobe or an eye brow. They’re not your problem. They never are.

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Other Evictions You May Have Missed

Hey Amnesty, thanks for reading us, but…where’s our Hat Tip?

Egypt has forcibly evicted an estimated 1,165 families in Rafah so that it can clear a buffer zone by the Gaza border, charged the human rights group Amnesty International, which is concerned that additional homes will be demolished in the coming weeks.

“The scale of the forced evictions has been astonishing; the Egyptian authorities have thrown more than 1,000 families out of their homes in just a matter of days, flouting international and national law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Shocking scenes have emerged of homes in Rafah being bulldozed, bombed, with entire buildings reduced to piles of rubble and families forcibly evicted,” said Sahraoui on Thursday.

Give me a break with that “shocking” nonsense. Bulldozing and bombing buildings to rubble is always shocking, therefore never so. You sound like a bunch of sissies.

We’ve covered this story for a couple of weeks, though our coverage as been significantly more positive than AI’s.

Egypt has destroyed some 800 homes in November in response to an attack on one of its military checkpoints in north Sinai on October 24, in which 33 soldiers were killed. The armed group Ansar Bait al-Maqdishas claimed responsibility for this attack, Amnesty said.

Days after the attack, on October 29, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a legal mandate to create of a buffer zone by Rafah and called for the area to be evacuated.

Clearing a buffer zone to stop Hamas from building infiltration and smuggling tunnels from Gaza into Egypt is one of the steps Egypt is taking to protect its armed forces from attacks by militant groups, Amnesty said.

At least 238 members of the security forces have been killed in northern Sinai since 3 July 2013, according state media reports.

Egypt has a right to take security measures, but it must do so within the bounds of international human rights law, Amnesty said.

The forced evictions have ignored these laws, said Amnesty, which explained that residents were not given adequate notice, proper compensation and alternative housing.

What rights? Gaza is run by Hamass, a criminal and terrorist organization. It must be isolated. When it isn’t, people—Egyptian, Israeli, Gazan—die.

Besides:

In a November 20th interview on France i24, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi defended the home demolitions and explained that the local population had been notified.

“Meetings have been organized in order to compensate them and to rebuild a new city of Rafah,” Sisi said.

“In our struggle against terrorism, we always tried to do our utmost to spare the human lives of civilians. We always respected human rights,” Sisi said.

In a related story of displaced people:

History was made on Sunday, November 30, when for the first time in the annals of the state, official recognition was given to Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran.

The event, hosted by President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence, was the continuum of legislation that was passed by the Knesset in June of this year designating November 30 as the national day of commemoration of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. The date was significant in that it commemorates the day after the anniversary of the November 29, 1947 United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine, which led to an immediate flare up of anti-Zionist action and policy among Arab states, resulting in the killing, persecution, humiliation, oppression and expulsion of Jews, the sequestration of Jewish property and a war against the nascent State of Israel.

In 1948 close to a million Jews lived in Arab lands. Some were massacred in pogroms. Most fled or were expelled between 1948 and 1967. In 1948 there were 260,000 Jews in Morocco. Today there are less than 3,000. In the same time frame, the Jewish population of Algeria declined from 135,000 to zero, in Tunisia from 90,000 to a thousand, in Libya from 40,000 to zero, in Egypt from 75,000 to less than one hundred, in Iraq from 125,000 to zero, in Yemen from 45,000 to approximately 200, in Syria from 27,000 to 100, and in Lebanon from 10,000 in the 1950s to less than 100.

Jewish population in Arab lands is now 4,500 out of 1948’s 1,000,000—a 99.55% eradication of their former number. And they have the chutzpah to accuse Israel of genocide.

We trust these two stories have been helpful in understanding the region. You’re welcome.

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Judenrein Jerusalem Watch

Sorry, Arabs, but “Next year in Passaic” just doesn’t have the right ring to it:

Arab rioters hurled Molotov cocktails at an apartment building in a flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood just hours after Jewish families moved in, police said Tuesday.

No one was injured in the incident in the Kfar Shiloach neighborhood (known as Silwan in Arabic) late on Monday, which saw a group of Palestinians firing flares and throwing petrol bombs at the building, a police statement said.

No serious damage was caused and no arrests were made.

Arrests? What for? Just kids blowing off steam. And smoke.

You don’t need to light a fuse to eliminate Jews from Jerusalem:

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has toughened the PA law against selling property to Israeli Jews Tuesday, following recent successful efforts by Jewish NGOs to reclaim parts of Jerusalem where former Jewish communities where expelled.

According to the new legislation, any Palestinian Arabs involved in renting, selling or facilitating real estate transactions with citizens of “hostile countries” in any way would receive life imprisonment and hard-labor, according to Wafa news agency.

The previous law “only” sentenced those found guilty to life imprisonment.

Why would Abbas want a state when he can just change the law on a whim? L’état, c’est lui. Unless he learned that from Obama.

Last, but certainly not least:

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is pressing Israel not to pass a bill allowing Jews to exercise their religious rights and pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, a senior official of the Hashemite kingdom revealed on Tuesday.

Jordanian Ambassador to “Palestine” Khalid al-Shawabka told the Palestinian Arab Ma’an News Agency that a bill proposed by MK Miri Regev (Likud) dividing prayer time at the Mount, as is done in Hevron’s Cave of Machpelah, is “unacceptable,” calling the Al-Aqsa Mosque (often used as a euphemism for the entire Temple Mount) and Jerusalem “red lines.”

Jews can’t buy houses in Jerusalem; they can’t live in them once they do buy them; and they can’t pray at the site of their (razed—twice) holiest shrine in their faith—which happens to be located in, you guessed it, Jerusalem.

And John Kerry blames Israel for “street anger and agitation”. I wonder how he’d feel about street anger in Louisburg Square?

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They Ain’t Making Jews Like Dreyfus Anymore

You know, that Jean Marie Le Pen, he wasn’t such a bad guy:

From the window of his Paris home, Michel Ciardi can see into the waiting room of a government welfare agency where a predominantly Arab and African crowd awaits government checks.

A former communist, Ciardi once believed the scene at the agency was a necessary element of French efforts to help integrate new immigrants. But that changed in 2000 after the second Palestinian intifada triggered a massive increase in anti-Semitic violence, much of it committed by Arab and African immigrants.

The violence was enough to shift his political allegiance to the National Front, a far-right party long demonized by French Jews as anti-Semitic and a threat to republican values.

“I never considered voting National Front,” Ciardi told JTA. “But I realized you need to defend yourself, your community, society and country against those seeking to subdue us.”

To be fair, it’s not Le Pen père we’re talking about, but Le Pen fille:

French Jewry has long viewed the National Front as an enemy, an abominable vestige of the pro-Nazi Vichy state. But under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, the photogenic daughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, a political provocateur convicted multiple times for hate speech and Holocaust denial, the party has tried to shed its image as decidedly outside the mainstream.

The younger Le Pen has aggressively courted Jewish voters by emphasizing its opposition to “the Islamization of France” and asserting that Jews have far more to fear from Arab anti-Semitism than from the racist rhetoric of some far-right activists.

Her strategy appears to be working.

A recently published survey of 1,095 self-identified Jews showed that the National Front had more than doubled its share of the Jewish vote in the 2012 presidential elections, earning 13.5 percent of Jewish support — a finding that has set off alarm bells among leaders of France’s major Jewish groups.

I wouldn’t worry. This ain’t her daddy’s National Front. Besides, ask Enoch Powell how it feels to be right ahead of your time:

Here is a decent, ordinary fellow-Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that the country will not be worth living in for his children. I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.

We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiancées whom they have never seen.

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”.

That speech, famously known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech, was delivered in 1968. Powell was reviled as a racist for decades thereafter. Until Woolwich.

And Jihadi John. Among several other incidents.

As Reagan’s Labor Secretary, Ray Donovan, famously quipped after his acquittal on charges of fraud, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” Enoch Powell has since passed across the River Styx, “foaming with much blood”, his reputation very much intact. Jean Marie Le Pen will take a little more time.

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Les Juifs Sont Fait

Aggie sends along this link from the road:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, reads Lady Liberty’s welcome. Every year since New York City’s founding, tens of thousands have crossed over the Atlantic to trade in their European chapeaux for American caps. This year, New York has increasingly become home to one particular population seeking American status: Jewish Frenchmen.

For this Jewish population, there are two main options when it comes to moving: the United States or Israel. While Israel feels more familiar to many of those seeking to migrate – it’s nearby and many already have Israeli passports — Mr. Kruzhkov notes that their businesses are often the key to determining a location.

“Israel is a small place, business opportunities are less, there is much more red tape.

The US is easier; it’s a great place to do business, less red tape.” Nonetheless, it is anti-Semitism, not business opportunities, that is driving the Jewish population out of France. “It’s no question, the driving force is the anti-Semitism, but the reason they are choosing the US is due to sound business reasons.”

For now, the families seem quite pleased with this decision. They look forward to visiting France as tourists. A client recently explained to Mr. Kruzhkov, “The reason to stay is family tradition? Okay, come back and visit then. If I feel nostalgic, I will come back and stay in a hotel.”

In a perfect world, Jews could live wherever they chose, and feel safe and happy with that choice. That is not this world, obviously. Thank God for Israel, and thank God for America. But two countries that fit the description is too few countries for my liking.

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The Jew-Hating Left

I read every word Caroline Glick writes, but I cite these few as especially worthy of your attention:

The only meaningful commonality between Islamist and leftist dogma is hatred for Jews with power, first and foremost for Israel. And the singular creation of this alliance is the sides’ joint determination that it isn’t racist to hate the Jewish state, or Jews who refuse to condemn it.

In this state of affairs, the only outlet that leftists have for their moral outrage is Israel. Because while they fear being called racist, they know that being anti-Semitic will not expose them to charges of racism.

And they know Jews won’t assault them for attacking Israel and its supporters. So they project all the crimes perpetrated by Islamic fanatics on Israel.

For instance, this week Megan Marzec, the president of Ohio University’s Student Senate, posted a video of herself dousing herself in a bucket of “blood.”

Marzec explained, “This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians – atrocities which OU is directly complacent in [sic] through cultural and economic ties with the Israeli state.”

In other words, she accused Israel of the crimes Hamas seeks to inflict on Israel, and of the crimes that Islamist forces, such as al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram, are currently carrying out in their areas of operations.

Consider the recent New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman which ran under the title “The End of Liberal Zionism.”

Lerman insisted that there is no way to square Zionism with liberal values.

According to this disaffected Jewish leftist, “The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.”

Huh? Who? Where? Even my man Moshe Feiglin, about as far to the right as there is in Israeli national politics (by my reckoning), would accept Arab citizens from an annexed Gaza, or pay them to relocate if they didn’t want to stay.

But if you can write it, someone will print it:

Lerman quoted an article published a few weeks before his in The New York Review of Books by Jonathan Freedland titled “Liberal Zionism After Gaza.”

Freedland argued that as the two-state solution becomes more and more remote, liberal Zionists “will have to decide which of their political identities matters more, whether they are first a liberal or first a Zionist.”

That does it. Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of Glick:

But this is of course absurd. The only way a person can uphold liberal values is by being a Zionist. Israel is the only country in the region that is a human rights-respecting liberal democracy that is governed by the rule of law.

What is becoming more and more difficult is being a Zionist while being a leftist. As the Left becomes more and more tied to Islamic fanatics, anti-Semitism is going to become more and more of a staple of leftist dogma. And that anti-Semitism will express itself first and foremost as a virulent rejection of Israel and of Jews who refuse to disavow and condemn the Jewish state.

Sotloff reportedly maintained faith with his Judaism in secret while in captivity. He refused food on Yom Kippur and secretly prayed toward Jerusalem.

In so doing, he showed that the evil that controlled him physically, could not penetrate his soul. For this he died a Jewish hero.

Leftist Jews must take a lesson from Sotloff, who was reportedly a product of a Jewish-leftist worldview.

They should understand that the decision they are being required to make is not a choice between liberalism and Zionism, but between liberalism and a reactionary dogma that sits comfortably with genocidal Jew-haters and misogynist oppressors. It shouldn’t be a particularly difficult choice.

If you’re not wiping a tear from your eye, you have no soul.

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“I Live. Send Help”

“Palestinian Jews”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

It all began with a cablegram in 1914. “Palestinian Jews facing terrible crisis belligerent countries stopping their assistance serious destruction threatens thriving colonies,” wrote Henry Morgenthau. The U.S.ambassador to the Ottoman Empire was reaching out to New York philanthropist Jacob Schiff asking for $50,000 to help the Jews in Palestine. Within the month, Schiff secured the funds and sent them over.

This was the beginning of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a coming together of three different organizations united to help save Jews worldwide in distress.

Palestinian Jews? Ottoman Empire? Colonies? Does he mean settlements? What is this strange tale he’s telling?

Called “I Live. Send Help” after another important cablegram, the exhibit walks through the century of JDC existence, giving a glimpse into the many ways the organizations has helped Jews and non-Jews around the world. (The titular cable was sent in June of 1945 from a survivor in Warsaw named Luba Mizne, who simply wrote, “I live require help.”)

Good thing Jews have all the money and run the world now. Twasn’t always thus:


(NB: That’s the First World War)

“It highlights the lengths to which the Joint went to save Jews, to bring relief in times of need, and to rebuild and renew Jewish life,” she said.

Since those early cablegrams, the JDC has helped people in difficult situations all over the world, ranging from sending goods to Holocaust survivors in Displaced Persons camps and helping Jews who immigrate to Israel, to relocating refugees from Sarajevo and educating Jews in the Soviet Union.

Don’t forget Haiti! (The Jews didn’t.)

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Fascinating. “Palestinians” once referred to Jews. Their “colonies” in the “Ottoman Empire” have existed for over a century. They were poor and starving, beset by “belligerent countries”. Today, they spread the charity they so desperately required a century ago. Who knew?

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Put Down the Tam Tams and Step Away From the Shelves

I see no problem here. How many Mohammeds (see post below) buy kosher?

A British supermarket chain is at the center of an anti-Semitism row, after a Jewish shopper found that the Kosher section had been completely removed, and was told by the store manager that Kosher food has been taken down because “We support Gaza.”

Anti-Israel demonstrators had picketed the branch of Sainsbury’s in Holborn, central London, part o fa pattern of aggressive calls to boycott Jewish-made Israeli goods – calls that often spilled over into violence.

In one incident Saturday, anti-Israel activists trashed a Tesco store in Hodge Hill while waving Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags, throwing produce on the ground and closing the establishment for several minutes. Likewise protests outside Tesco stores in Greater Manchester, Blackburn and Luton were reported.

The Sainsbury’s move to empty the Kosher section was discovered that same Saturday by Jewish actor Colin Appleby, who posted a photo of the empty shelves on his Facebook page.

Appleby recounted what he had been told by the store manager, triggering a firestorm of criticism with many noting that a significant proportion of the Kosher goods were not even from Israel, and that the move amounted to pure anti-Semitism as it clearly targeted Jewish shoppers.

Journalist Jonathan Sacerdoti, who is also a Sainsbury’s customer, called Sainsbury’s on Sunday to register his shock over the incident, to which he was told the store decided to remove the Kosher goods out of fear that protesters would “take Kosher products off the shelf” and wreak havoc.

“Why is it considered a good reaction to remove products of interest to Jews from the shelves when there’s going to be some sort of violent intervention rather than to stop the violent intervention?” asked Sacerdoti. “If I told you I was going to go into the store and start trashing Halal products from the shelves, would you remove them all?”

“Of course not,” responded the Sainsbury’s telephone operator. After being pressed by Sacerdoti she refused to call the incident a “mistake,” later refusing to comment on her statement that the store would not remove Halal products when faced with an identical threat.

No one’s making Britain behave this way. All those baby Mohammeds, Mohameds, and Muhammeds (see post below) are too young to mind kosher groceries. Heck, they may even like them. All those baby Muhamets have mommies and daddies—some of whom might be upset that Jewish dietary laws are respected, but lots of whom aren’t.

But Sainsbury’s supports Hamastan. So the Manischewitz has to go.

PS: I’ve always wondered how come the Prophet’s visage can’t be depicted even once (even though it has been, plenty), while His name can be transliterated thusly?

The name is transliterated as Mohammad (primarily in Iran and Afghanistan), Muhammad (in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Malaysia), Muhammed (Arab World, primarily in North Africa), Mohamed, Mohammed, Mohamad and Muhammad (Arab World), Muhammed, Muhamed (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Muhammed, Muhamed, Muhammet, or Muhamet (Turkey and Albania).

The name may be abbreviated to Md., Mohd., Muhd., or simply M. because of its utmost meaning, its popularity has meant that it can become hard to distinguish people when there is a multitude with the same name, in some cases it may be to keep a personal name less tied to a religious context. This is only done if the person has a second given name, Some men who have Muhammad (or variant) as a first name choose not to use it, as it is such a common name. Instead they use another given name. For example, Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Zia-ul-Haq, Ayub Khan and Nawaz Sharif use their second given name.

In Latin, it is Mahometus (hence Italian Maometto) and ?????? (Moameth) in Greek. In Catalan and in Spanish, it is Mahoma, in Portuguese, it is Maomé, and in Galician it is Mamede. In Polish it is Mahomet. In Russia, it is ???????? (Mukhammad), another common spelling is ??????? (Magomed). In Somali, it is Maxamed. In Senegal and in other West African nations, the variant is Mamadou. In Kazakh, the name is ???????? (Mukhammed). In Chinese, it is written as ???? (Mùh?nmòdé). In Hebrew, it is written as ????? (Mukhammad).

PPS: Sorry WordPress can’t handle the other alphabets.

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Apartheid State Update

Whom the terrorists kill:

Ten days after he was killed in a terrorist infiltration incident, a daughter was born to Sgt.-Maj. Baynesain Kasahun, 39, from Netivot. After giving birth at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, his widow Galaito said while holding her daughter: “I forgot about the pain of childbirth and only felt pain for him.”

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Kasahun was a combat soldier in the Gaza Division’s northern brigade and was killed in the incident in which terrorists infiltrated an area near Kibbutz Nir Am and fired an anti-tank missile at the troops.

Three other soldiers were also killed in the incident: Col. Dolev Kidar, 38, from Modi’in, Sgt. Nadav Goldmacher, 23, from Be’er Sheva and Second lieutenant Yuval Heiman, 21, from Efrat.

“It was an easy birth and that would have made him happy. He had been waiting for this birth,” Kasahun, 34, told Ynet. It tore me up that I couldn’t call him or text him. It’s unfathomable.”

The last time they spoke was the night before he was killed. “You think it will never happen and then comes that moment when you get the message. Every day that goes by without a phone call from him and without hearing his voice makes me understand that it really happened.”

“I don’t know how to go on from here. It will be difficult. Nothing can fill the void, the gap that has been created. But God willing it will be fine.”

She’s right on both counts: it’s unfathomable; and, God willing, it will be fine.

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The Wrong Sort of Jews

Jews across Europe are under siege by skinheads and Muslims out for blood.

Europe responds:

The French government is seeking to disband a militant Jewish group involved in recent clashes with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies against the Gaza offensive which turned violent, a source told AFP Thursday.

News of the mooted ban came as France’s main Jewish group prepared to stage a pro-Israel gathering in Paris, in response to weeks of protests marred by clashes, arrests and anti-Semitism.

Synagogues and Jewish-owned shops have been attacked by Muslim and left-wing extremists in Paris, prompting bans on protests as authorities have struggled to get to grips with the anti-Semitic surge. In one particularly severe incident, a mob of Muslim rioters attempted to storm a synagogue in an attack likened to “Kristallnacht” by one French Jewish community leader.

During that incident outside the Yitzhak Abarbanel synagogue, members of the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ) and other Jewish youths clashed with Islamists in an attempt to defend it.

French far-left and Muslim leaders have been calling for action against the LDJ, with the French Muslim council branding it “an extremist, racist and violent association.”

Establishment leaders of France’s half-million strong Jewish community have clearly distanced themselves from the LDJ, insisting it has not been asked to defend French synagogues.

Anti-Semitism in France has skyrocketed in recent years, prompting a mass-exodus of French Jews, primarily to Israel. 1% of the entire French Jewish community is expected to make aliyah in 2014.

The Jewish Defense League and Meir Kahane were not to everyone’s taste. But it’s now taken as fact that Kahane’s assassination was one of Al Qaeda’s earliest acts. And who would you rather see turn up if a pack of Islamist goons descended on your synagogue with torches and pitchforks—the Jewish Defense League or the ObamaCare Pajama Boy?

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Remembrance

Terrific remembrance/appreciation by Harry Stein of his father, Joseph Stein.

Terrific on many levels:

My father, playwright Joseph Stein, was so vital for so long that when he died in October 2010, at 98, some people were actually taken by surprise. Nearly half a century after his greatest success, ¬Fiddler on the Roof, he had been hard at work on a new musical.

At the service, I began my eulogy with an anecdote from a few years earlier. My father and stepmother were en route from New York to Westport, Connecticut, where one of his old shows was being revived, when he began feeling ill. They called ahead, and by the time they arrived at the theater, an EMS crew was waiting.

“How do you feel?” asked the head EMS guy.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“What hurts you?”

“It hurts me that George Bush is president.”

The line drew a roar from the huge crowd at Riverside Memorial Chapel, as I knew it would. These were his people, New York theater folk, as reliably left a bunch as you’re likely to find anywhere outside a university campus.

Terrific, not least, in how it captures the Neanderthalian humor of the Bush era. Mention of his name (even worse, Cheney’s or Rumsfeld’s) induced manic hyena howls of hypocritical hilarity. Audiences were easy, comedians grew lazy—I had to dismiss the equivalent of an entire month’s guest list on the Tonight Show for the unpardonable sin of safe, comfortable—unfunny—jibes at the Bush administration. Not for their politics; almost everyone I knew shared their politics. But for their lameness. Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion, the New Yorker Magazine, so many other media outlets I followed, died to me with their groupthink humor. Listening to shows like NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” felt like being a teetotaler at a boozy bash: why was everyone laughing so hard? (Besides, the joke is too close to the old one told by Jack Lemmon about Walter Matthau: after Matthau fell down a flight of stairs, Lemmon rushed to his side and asked “Are you comfortable?” Matthau rolled over and responded, “I make a nice living.”)

But the piece is also a touching account of love and alienation between father and son:

It was a situation surely familiar to others in families sharply split along ideological lines, though the generational divide generally runs in the opposite direction. My father simply couldn’t fathom how any thinking person, let alone someone who’d imbibed politics at his knee, could have ended up a . . . well, he never actually used the word, at least not directly. The closest he ever came was reporting the reaction of a friend, one of Broadway’s better-known composers, who had come across something I’d written: “When did your son become a Fascist?”

For my part, I understood his worldview far better—a Communist in young adulthood, he’d been a proud progressive ever since—but I found him no less frustrating. In other respects thoughtful, even wise, how could he not see the damage that today’s aggrieved and self-righteous Left was inflicting on the country we both loved?

Boy, ain’t we all been there.

I’ll leave it to you to read the piece. If you like theater (specifically Fiddler), it’s a tremendous behind the curtain look; if you like political history, there are some telling details on the American Left, especially among America’s Jews; if you like memoir, it’s a terrific remembrance of a remarkable life of an ordinary man.

And if you like humor:

Trying to do too much, both hands full, he’d fallen backward down a long flight of stairs, landing on his shoulder. He was to have surgery the next day, when the phone on his bedside table rang, and I picked up. It was Carl Reiner. “I heard what happened to your dad,” he exclaimed, more excited than alarmed. “It’s incredible, it should be in the Guinness book of records! I told Mel [Brooks], and he said, ‘It’s impossible, no 98-year-old could possibly fall down 14 steps backward and survive!’ ”

I tried handing the phone to my father, but he demurred, whispering that he was too tired. But I knew his old friend would cheer him up, so I held the receiver to his ear. He listened for a moment as Carl repeated what he’d told me. “Tell Mel,” he replied wearily, “that not only is it possible; there are several people to whom I’d highly recommend it.”

Now, that’s funny.

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When the Going Gets Tough…

The tough get coding:

Though rockets are flying around Israeli skies, 20 Jewish students from top universities and corporations around the world have traveled to Israel for a 10-week internship at large tech companies like Checkpoint, Google and PayPal, as well as at start-ups –and they’re getting involved in the tech side of the conflict.

While they may have signed up for the internships to advance their careers, participants in the Israel Tech Challenge have been making their own small contribution to the war effort.

The group of 20 came to Israel on July 14, a week into the Israeli air campaign in Gaza that opened Operation Defensive Edge, joining another group of 16 that arrived in June. Both the newcomers and the “veterans” have taken things in stride, said Toledano. “They didn’t overreact to the situation, and they’ve shown a good ability to cope with the situation. They didn’t panic when sirens went off in Tel Aviv, where most of them are working, and their motivation has not decreased.”

If anything, it’s increased, said Toledano, “Many of the participants had ideas about developing security related apps in the hackathon, and some have done so in the context of the theme of the event, which to develop apps and services to enhance safe living in urban areas.”

Among those apps is Notifi, developed by Futter and several colleagues during the Challenge’s June hackathon. Notifi checks your location and checks Twitter for messages on developing situations in your area. “The premise is that when there is a security incident — a protest, robbery, fire, etc. — people are going to tweet about it in real time,” said Futter. “Over 60% of tweets include geolocation information. We coordinate that information with sentiment analysis to determine how serious a situation is, and send appropriate warnings out to users. The app would work very well in Israel, or anywhere else.”

When it’s finished, that is. Futter and his team developed an alpha version of the app for the hackathon, but with their internship duties (Futter is working at Checkpoint) they haven’t had time to follow up. “I really hope we can find the time to finish it,” Futter said. “There’s a lot of unrest in Israel and the Jewish world in general, with anti-Semitic riots going on throughout Europe. A tool like this could help make life safer for large numbers of people.”

We’ve noted that when bad things happen to Jews, the bad things spread to everyone else (Islamic terrorism being a prime example). But when Jews do good things (this pogrom app being one minor example), the world entire benefits.

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