Anne Applebaum: In Britain, anti-Semitism is back | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Applebaum on the mainstreaming of antisemitism and some of the possible reasons:

Anti-Semitism is back. Not just as a nasty little fringe sentiment, and not just in the Breitbart comment sections. Not just in social media either, although anyone who posts or tweets and has a Jewish-sounding surname (and even many who don’t) has had to get used to the fact that social media is a perfect conduit for language that would once have been too filthy to use.

The best antidote is not to care; that is what the “block” button on Twitter is for. But when the sentiments begin to creep into mainstream institutions in European countries, then some deeper analysis is required. Here, I am going to bypass the would-be authoritarians of central Europe — some of whom have lately fallen all over themselves trying to live up to old stereotypes. I am instead going to write about reasonable, pragmatic Britain, where both major political parties have lately been incubating distinctly un-British forms of conspiracy thinking and paranoia.

Weird forms of anti-Semitism on the far left of the British political spectrum have been around for some time. The former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is famous for, among other things, having compared a Jewish journalist to a Nazi. He also accused the Jews of collaborating with Hitler, a statement that got him suspended from the Labour Party last year. Once an outlier, Mr. Livingstone is now mainstream. Over the past couple of years, as the party has moved left, internal party squabbles have broken out over a Holocaust denier being invited to speak at a fringe event during a party conference, over a local council candidate who posted anti-Semitic comments, over a member of the Labour Muslim Network accused of the same and so on.

Some of the lines of paranoia seem to stretch back to the “rootless cosmopolitanism” propaganda of the old Eastern Bloc. Remember that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is a former writer for the Morning Star, a pro-Soviet British publication that furtive-eyed young people used to hand out on street corners. Some of it seems to be coming from the Muslim community. There are constant calls to do something more about it — to stamp it out, to protest, none of which ever quite seems to solve the problem.

But the other side of the British political spectrum is catching up. Here, the sources of the conspiracy theories are different: the international alt-right and the authoritarian states of Eastern Europe. Nigel Farage — the pro-Brexit, anti-European friend of President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon — has mused aloud about the vast power of the “Jewish lobby.” The Daily Telegraph, once the reliably conservative newspaper of the English shires, has picked up that theme, too.

On Feb. 8, the paper ran an extraordinary front-page headline splash about George Soros, the Jewish financier, and his “secret plot to thwart Brexit.” The same story — also reported in more ordinary language in other British papers — in fact concerned a non-secret donation that is by no means unique. There are several anti-Brexit groups in Britain with private funding from wealthy people, just as there are several pro-Brexit groups with private funding from wealthy people.

The headline — in a newspaper owned by two genuinely secretive billionaires who live in what is considered an offshore tax haven — was accompanied by an article that repeated some of the slander about Mr. Soros that has been peddled for years, starting in Russia and then spreading west, including the fact that his foundation, which supports democracy and free speech in that part of the world, was chased out of Russia and Uzbekistan — as if that were a mark against it. The following day, the Daily Mail — a newspaper owned by a billionaire — and the Sun — a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, a nonresident billionaire — picked up the same story with the same imagery. The latter referred to Mr. Soros as a “puppeteer.”

The most charitable explanation is that the Telegraph, in conjuring the age-old specter of a secretive Jew manipulating politics behind the scenes, did not know what it was doing. The less charitable explanation is that it was dog-whistling on purpose. The Sun and the Mail almost certainly could care less.

Still, this is new, even by the low standards of British tabloids. Why is it happening now? My best explanation is that the British, having unmoored themselves from Europe, are experiencing an unfamiliar sense of powerlessness. The campaign to leave the European Union told them they would “take back control.” Instead, negotiations with the EU have forced a humiliating series of concessions. Although the deadline is only a year away, the most important questions are still unresolved, because the ruling Conservative Party is too badly divided to resolve them. Hard choices on trade deals and the status of Northern Ireland have not been made because they will make too many people angry. The Labour Party, meanwhile, maintains strategic ambiguity and says  little.

As centrists and pragmatists retreat, wounded, from political life, new fantasies and fantasists blossom in the vacuum. Surely it can’t be the case that a directionless Britain is floundering; surely someone else must be to blame for all of this chaos and ill will. Some seek scapegoats, others uncover conspiracies. Maybe it’s unsurprising, then, that the oldest scapegoats and the most familiar tropes are among them.

via Anne Applebaum: In Britain, anti-Semitism is back | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


McGill admits to anti-Semitism not being a factor during re-elections: Gil Troy

Gil Troy, a professor at McGill, on the antisemitism anti-Zionism distinction or non-distinction:

Following an investigation into the incident, McGill University concluded that anti-Semitism was not a factor when students at the Student Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) general assembly in October prevented the re-election of three pro-Israel students who dared to oppose the BDS movement.

Yet McGill’s report made three serious mistakes: it ignored how modern anti-Semitism hides behind anti-Zionism; it implied that whereas universities put the burden of proof on racists, sexists and homophobes rather than their victims, the burden of proof regarding anti-Semitism at McGill falls on Jews, not Jew-bashers; and, most outrageously, while concluding there was no anti-Semitism at the Oct. 23 assembly, it proved that there was anti-Semitism before and afterwards – yet barely objected to it.

This is a volatile subject. The investigator, Professor Spencer Boudreau, approached his task calmly and honourably. He concluded that because BDS and Israel were issues in the vote, the outcome reflected political differences, not religious bigotry.

On one hand, his report tries to distinguishing between unacceptable Jew-hatred and hostility toward the Jewish state, which Israel’s supporters must tolerate, so our hostility toward Israel’s enemies will be tolerated, too.

Unfortunately, Boudreau misses the obsessive way that BDS supporters target Israel, which, as a Jewish state, attracts particular venom. Boudreau should have considered Natan Sharansky’s 3D test of anti-Semitism, which illustrates that when Israel is demonized disproportionately, judged by double standards and delegitimized, the assaults go from the realm of the normal to the pathological – from political debates, to Jew-hatred.

Similarly, reading the internationally recognized definition of anti-Semitism, which was drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, would have provided context and clarity. That definition explains that modern anti-Semitism includes “the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity,” “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel” and “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”

Would support for any other country have triggered this unprecedented rejection? If the SSMU had rejected a Francophone who supported Quebec separation, would that be tolerated and dismissed as just politics?

While ignoring modern anti-Semitism’s masquerade, the report also ignored campus norms about how bigotry is dealt with. Alleged micro-aggressions are taken seriously and victims’ perceptions predominate on compus. Yet Noah Lew’s feelings as a Jew experiencing unwarranted hatred were not treated as gingerly.

Beyond the subtleties is the fact that the report “buried the lede,” as reporters say. Indeed, in a report that found no evidence of anti-Semitism at McGill, Boudreau wrote: “I cannot stress enough that social media generally proved to be a most negative and at times disturbing platform.” He noted that some students posted “ad hominem” and “abusive attacks” and that a post made by the pro-BDS group Democratize SSMU contained “anti-Jewish tropes.”
Those words suggest that anti-Semitism did occur at McGill. Saying it didn’t occur at the SSMU but occurred elsewhere is like the pest controller saying, “Don’t worry, there are no pests in the attic,” while leaving them in the basement.

Furthermore, reporting that Democratize SSMU’s post was deleted and apologies were made implies that no harm was done, even though the report admits that “harm had been done” – and recognizes that this lynch mob-like atmosphere (my characterization) may have made Lew extra sensitive to such insults.

As a McGill professor and patriot, I wish that this report convinced me that there was no anti-Semitism at the university. But the report found rats in the basement. Someone within the McGill community must address this problem honestly, thoughtfully, constructively and aggressively. I don’t want any donors cutting funds to McGill, or any students refusing to enrol. But I also don’t want administrators and faculty using this whitewash with dark stripes to dodge their moral responsibility to make sure that every member of the McGill community feels respected and accepted, even if they dare to be pro-Israel, or even Zionist.

via McGill admits to anti-Semitism not being a factor during re-elections – The Canadian Jewish News

Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high

Latest UK data – not police-reported but CST plays a similar role as B’nai Brith does here:

Antisemitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK, with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, figures indicate.

There were 1,382 antisemitic incidents recorded nationwide in 2017 by the Community Security Trust.

This was the highest tally that the trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering such data in 1984. The figure rose by 3%, compared with a total, in 2016, of 1,346 incidents – a tally that itself was a record annual total.

There was no obvious single cause behind the trend, the trust said. “Often increases in antisemitic incidents have been attributable to reactions to specific trigger events that cause identifiable, short-term, spikes in incident levels. However, this was not the case in 2017. Instead, it appears that the factors that led to a general, sustained, high level of antisemitic incidents in 2016 continued throughout much of 2017.”

The report pointed to a rise in all forms of hate crime following the EU referendum as well as publicity surrounding alleged antisemitism in the Labour party. These factors may have caused higher levels of incidents as well as encouraged more reporting of antisemitic incidents from victims and witnesses in the Jewish community, the trust said.

The trust’s figures showed a 34% increase in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 108 in 2016 to 145 in 2017. The most common single type of incident in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public.

There was a fall in the number of incidents that involved social media, from 289 in 2016 to 247 last year. Three-quarters of all the antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

The trust’s chief executive, David Delew, said: “Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result. This should concern everybody because it shows anger and division that threaten all of society. We have the support of government and police, but prosecutions need to be more visible and more frequent.”

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, said antisemitism was a “despicable form of abuse” which had “absolutely no place in British society”.

She said: “I welcome this report’s findings that the rise in reported incidents partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK. But even one incident is one too many, and any rise in incidents is clearly concerning, which is why this government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from antisemitism and hate crime.”

The shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, said the findings were extremely concerning and emphasised “just how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront antisemitism”.

A spokesperson for advocacy group Hope Not Hate said the levels of antisemitism remained unacceptably high and it was concerning to see that incidents had not declined.

Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the trust figures were indicative of official 2017 police statistics. “Antisemitic crime has been rising dramatically since 2014 and that rise is not explained by an increase in reporting, and we have seen no noticeable impact from Brexit,” he said.

Silverman added: “We believe that Jews are being singled out disproportionately and with increasing violence due to the spread of antisemitic conspiracy myths originating from Islamists, the far-left and far-right, which society is failing to address, as evidenced by the ongoing disgraceful situation in the Labour party, and because the Crown Prosecution Service declines to prosecute so often that antisemites no longer fear any consequences to their actions.”

Until the criminal justice system and political parties stopped “paying lip service to antisemitism,” he said, “the threat to the security of British Jews was at risk of reaching crisis point”.New data this week revealed that hundreds of hate crimes have been committed at or near schools and colleges in the last two years, most linked to race and ethnicity.

Source: Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high

‘One cannot change history’: Israel slams bill that would send people to prison for blaming Poles for Holocaust

Rightfully so. Poland continues to decline in recognizing its past and antisemitism. Those who do not acknowledge their history …:

Israeli leaders angrily criticized pending legislation in Poland that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the Holocaust, with some accusing the Polish government of outright denial Saturday as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the proposed law “baseless” and ordered his country’s ambassador to Poland to meet with Polish leaders to express his strong opposition.

“One cannot change history, and the Holocaust cannot be denied,” he said.

The lower house of the Polish parliament on Friday passed the bill, which prescribes prison time for using phrases such as “Polish death camps” to refer to the killing sites Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II.

A group of children at the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1945, just after the liberation by the Soviet army.

Many Poles fear such phrasing makes some people incorrectly conclude that Poles had a role in running the camps. But critics say the legislation could have a chilling effect on debating history, harming freedom of expression and opening a window to Holocaust denial.

The bill still needs approval from Poland’s Senate and president. However, it marks a dramatic step by the country’s current nationalist government to target anyone who tries to undermine its official stance that Poles only were heroes during the war, not Nazi collaborators who committed heinous crimes.

Netanyahu’s government generally has had good relations with Poland, which has been recently voting with Israel in international organizations.

At Auschwitz on Saturday evening, Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, abandoned a prepared speech to criticize the bill, saying that “everyone in Israel was revolted at this news.”

In Israel, which was established three years after the Holocaust and is home to the world’s largest community of survivors, the legislation provoked outrage.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, noting that exactly 73 years had passed since the Auschwitz death camp on Polish soil was liberated, cited the words of a former Polish president about how history could not be faked and the truth could not be hidden.

“The Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognized for its horrors and atrocities,” Rivlin said. “Also among the Polish people, there were those who aided the Nazis in their crimes. Every crime, every offence, must be condemned. They must be examined and revealed.”

Today’s Poles have been raised on stories of their people’s wartime suffering and heroism. Many react viscerally when confronted with the growing body of scholarship about Polish involvement in the killing of Jews.

In a sign of the sensitivities on both sides, Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid party and the son of a survivor, got into a heated Twitter spat Saturday with the Polish Embassy in Israel.

“I utterly condemn the new Polish law which tries to deny Polish complicity in the Holocaust. It was conceived in Germany but hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German soldier. There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that,” Lapid wrote.

That sparked the Embassy to respond: “Your unsupportable claims show how badly Holocaust education is needed, even here in Israel.”

“My grandmother was murdered in Poland by Germans and Poles,” Lapid responded. “I don’t need Holocaust education from you. We live with the consequences every day in our collective memory. Your embassy should offer an immediate apology.”

To which the embassy retorted: “Shameless.”

Israel’s foreign ministry said the deputy Polish ambassador to Israel had been summoned for a clarification.

For decades, Polish society avoided discussing the killing of Jews by civilians or denied that anti-Semitism motivated the slayings, blaming all atrocities on the Germans.

In this photo provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, people walk on a commercial street in the Lublin ghetto near a sign forbidding entry, in Warsaw, Poland.

A turning point was the publication in 2000 of a book, “Neighbours,” by Polish-American sociologist Jan Tomasz Gross, which explored the murder of Jews by their Polish neighbours in the village of Jedwabne. The book resulted in widespread soul-searching and official state apologies.

But since the conservative and nationalistic Law and Justice party consolidated power in 2015, it has sought to stamp out discussions and research on the topic. It demonized Gross and investigated whether he had slandered Poland by asserting that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war.

Holocaust researchers have collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis. According to one scholar at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, of the 160,000-250,000 Jews who escaped and sought help from fellow Poles, about 10 per cent to 20 per cent survived. The rest were rejected, informed upon or killed by rural Poles, according to the Tel Aviv University scholar, Havi Dreifuss.

The memorial issued a statement Saturday night opposing the Polish legislation and trying to put into historical context the “complex truth” regarding the Polish population’s attitude toward its Jews.

“There is no doubt that the term ‘Polish death camps’ is a historical misrepresentation,” the Yad Vashem memorial said. “However, restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people’s direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion.”

Source: ‘One cannot change history’: Israel slams bill that would send people to prison for blaming Poles for Holocaust

Germany’s ‘New’ Anti-Semitism Is Not Just About Muslim Immigrants Versus Jews

Long interesting read:

Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz, who was born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has been running the synagogue in Offenbach, a city outside Frankfurt, for the past 20 years. It’s not the Big Apple, but he likes it here.

Three years ago, Gurewitz went to buy diapers for his baby at the city’s faded gray shopping center, where he was confronted by a group of teenage boys who shouted racial slurs and “viva Palestine” at him while the other shoppers did nothing.

A few months later, when the boys trundled into his synagogue hoping to get the charges against them for insult and physical injury dropped, they had some questions they wanted clarified about Jews in this country.

“It was like they thought there were dollar bills in our eyes,” Gurewitz told The Daily Beast. “And they thought that Jews don’t have to pay taxes in Germany.“

Today, the 43-year-old rabbi just wants to do his job as a man of God. The shopping center was not the first or last time he has encountered the kind of ugly stereotype that, having originated in Europe, now seems to be fueling new versions of anti-Jewish sentiment across the continent as well as in the U.S., from the George Soros caricatures that permeate the advertising space in Hungary’s no longer free media to the Turkish president’s various “us against the world” conspiracies.

There are growing concerns that anti-Semitism is on the rise, and in this atmosphere of fear Gurewitz has members from his congregation coming up to him after services telling him that the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland party is trying to recruit them.

This is grim, ironic opportunism. Just a year ago one of the AfD’s politicians in this same region declared that the Central Council of Jews in Germany secretly controls the entire country. Now, says Gurewitz, “I know they tried to reach out to Russian members from our community by pretending that they are pro-Israel and for the Jews.“

THE HATE SLOGANS in Germany that greeted U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last month to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem put the spotlight on anti-Semitism in Muslim immigrant communities, which certainly exists. But they also showed that the real-life tensions between Jews and Muslims offer an opportunity to the far right to rationalize its Islamophobia and downplay its historical anti-Semitism.

Last month, some Muslim refugees in hoodies threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Gothenburg, for example. Bad enough. But a certain “Swedish journalist“ has been tweeting about supposed subsequent but in fact nonexistent bomb attacks and offering “my deepest condolences to the Jewish people.” His comments were widely retweeted—he has 82,000 followers. But, in fact, the 22-year-old previously has denied the Holocaust and said, memorably, that “Hitler had some good points.“ And he is not even Swedish, as the U.K. charity Hope Not Hate found out this summer. He is an Englishman from North Yorkshire.

“Just a year ago one of the AfD’s politicians in this same region declared that the Central Council of Jews in Germany secretly controls the entire country.”

In Germany, the footage of protests in Berlin after the Jerusalem embassy announcement was just the kind of thing AfD recruiters on the German right are likely to exploit. Calls of “Tod Israel” (Death to Israel) filled the air, and several people set fire to homemade Israeli flags 100 yards from a Holocaust memorial. Cameras captured the Middle Eastern-looking young men who were sitting on each other’s shoulders and chanting in the wind so that they appeared to be spurring the energy of the entire crowd. (Ten people were arrested, mainly for covering their faces.)

Even in a Muslim or Middle Eastern context, it is somewhat surprising that the Jerusalem issue pulled together disparate and often mutually hostile groups. Only some had Palestinian heritage, while others included Turkish nationalists and Hezbollah fans. Some people were waving Syrian flags.

There hasn’t been a lot of research on anti-Semitism among Germany’s Muslim population (or, for that matter, among the majority population). But it’s not just about hand-me-down prejudices and propaganda.

Anti-Israel sentiment shading into anti-Semitism has branched out into other parts of German culture, where there is little or no innate interest in Palestine, Jerusalem, or Islam.

One of those areas is gangsta rap, a fairly recent phenomenon in Germany.

“Palestine, the region where Muslims are being treated badly by Western forces, is like a magnifying glass,” said the music producer Marcus Staiger, who describes himself as a left-wing radical and is credited as one of the early leading lights of German street rap. For second- or third-generation immigrants who feel like outsiders in German society, he told The Daily Beast, Palestine is the underdog with which they may choose to identify.

Ben Salomo, who, at the age of 40, has gotten used to being the only Jewish rap artist at any given rap battle, said solidarity for Palestine “is mainstream, is fashion.” In one incident he recalled, a groupie tried to get a bigger star’s attention backstage by pointing at him and shouting, “Look, look. That’s the Jew.”

“He [the other rapper] came very close to me like he wanted to hit me and then he was like: ‘Joke, joke,’” Salomo told The Daily Beast. “It wasn’t a joke, but one still laughs.”

THERE IS A SENSE of anti-establishment defiance in the tracks that certain rap artists have dedicated to Palestine and in the phrases where they name-drop the region (“He is hit while he throws the stone / he screams his last words loud: freedom”). But if you really want to style yourself as a rebel with a cause, then, along with occasional allusions to violent jihad (“We don’t talk long, you will be bombed”), going to war with Israel in your songs (“c’est la vie / I will do an attack like Tel Aviv”) is an effective way to be provocative.

Some of Berlin’s esteemed newspaper columnists and a Green Party politician once chastised the so-called first German gangsta rapper, Bushido, for being a bad “role model” of integration (his father is Tunisian). He had posted a map as his Twitter profile picture that showed a blank space where Israel is supposed to be. The image is used as propaganda by Hamas and extremist Palestinian organizations who deny Israel’s right to exist. But Bushido was not about to take it down. He’s had that profile picture for five years now.

Perhaps this proved inspirational to the baby-faced dyed-blond rap artist Kollegah, who kicked off his rap career by posing as a young Hugh Hefner in a silk robe while two women draped themselves over the hood of a car (“Hey, move aside, you slut / I am the big boss in the silk robe”). His stepfather is Muslim, and Kollegah, 34, converted when he was 15. Last year he grew a beard and flew to Ramallah because he wanted to shoot a documentary there for his YouTube channel.

In the resulting video, Kollegah, whose real name is Felix Blume, appeared uncharacteristically self-conscious walking around a crisis zone in a T-shirt that read “Deus Maximus,” his eyes darting about while he handed out cash and tried to control every conversation for the camera.

It was a far cry from the song he would record back home, called “Legacy,” in which he dares his critics to “Turn me into an anti-Semite because I help Palestinians / In whose home it looks like a Vietnam War zone.”

For Kollegah, who has also rapped about his “Jewish lawyers,” the Palestine film was about establishing a new kind of street credibility, according to Staiger. And judging by the outrage in the German media, as well as some of the disturbing resonance from his fans, “He is clearly hitting a nerve with his audience.“

TRADITIONALLY—AND WHEN we aren’t talking about right-wing extremists—it’s been left-wing radicals who slander Israel as the new “Third Reich” or conflate negative stereotypes of Jews with those of capitalism per se, and who have been accused of fostering anti-Semitism.

But today in Germany, the radical left is failing to stay socially relevant and mobilize young people, who perceive them as inhibited, intellectually snobbish, and caught up in a linguistic showdown over, for instance, gender marking.

And then there is the “Youth Resistance,” a gang of bomber-jacket-wearing German men in their mid-20s. Their members sometimes prowl around Berlin looking to set fire to drinking haunts they don’t like, scrawl “armed and ready” on the walls of freshly renovated apartment buildings, and beat up other left-wing radicals who may also want to “Fuck the U.S.” but don’t hate Israel, too.

So when the Israeli flags were being burned at the Brandenburg Gate last month, the Youth Resistance was right there, shouting amid the angry crowd, and the police made sure to keep an eye on them (indeed, they are generally under police surveillance).

The Youth Resistance leader, who goes by the alter ego of Taktikka, may be the only part-time musician in Germany to describe himself as a “proletarian rapper.” Taktikka appears in his pictures with a cloth tied over his mouth; his music videos are a mash-up of riot porn and a burning American flag. He doesn’t want to give his real name, and in the typical fashion of the German far left, he will only answer questions in writing.

He told The Daily Beast that he is inspired by German street rap, by the “authentic people from the Volk,” who “give the youth of the German proletariat a voice.”

The Kurdish German rapper Haftbefehl as a teenager used to deal drugs in Offenbach, the same city where Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz lives. The rapper, whose real name is Aykut Anhan, dismisses the German street rap genre as “crap” and now lives with his mother in a calmer part of town. He once wrote the line, “I sell cocaine to the Jews from the bank,” which he says is not anti-Semitic because it is just stating the fact of what he used to do.

Rabbi Gurewitz is skeptical about the way Haftbefehl talks about Offenbach: a “terrible” place where “every second person at the train station carries a knife,” according to the rapper. “This is not really true,” said Gurewitz.

But Taktikka of Youth Resistance, for his part, is a fan of Haftbefehl’s energetic and macabre work: “I like to listen to his music when I’m doing martial arts or weight training.”

Since Taktikka and his gang moved to the capital to shed their suburban upbringing for the sake of the anti-imperialist struggle, they also have boxer haircuts and like to go to the gym.

According to another activist on the scene, they are “trying to make their politics ‘swaggy,’” by which he means edgy and avant-garde in a way that will thrill the kids who think that Marx is pretentious and gangsta rap cool. At the expense, it would appear, of Germany’s Jewish community.

via Germany’s ‘New’ Anti-Semitism Is Not Just About Muslim Immigrants Versus Jews

i24NEWS – Austria pledges to grant citizenship to Holocaust victim descendants

Will be interesting to see whether there is much take up by descendants:

The newly minted Austrian government will grant citizenship to the descendants of Holocaust victims, Haaretz reported Tuesday.The decision comes in the wake of a diplomatic spat between Israel and Vienna as Austria’s new coalition between the conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party was sworn in on Monday, rekindling an alliance from the early 2000s which prompted unease around Europe.

The Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, has a past stained by frequent anti-Semitic incidents and instances of Nazi propaganda, which is why a harsh Israeli response was widely expected

According to a statement released by the Israeli government, “Israel will continue to work with civil servants of the Ministries headed by members of the Freedom Party”, but will also “continue to struggle against Anti-semitism” and “for the commemoration of the Holocaust.”

Some Israeli media have interpreted the statement as a “boycott” of the Freedom Party Ministers at the political level, since it says that “working relations” will continue with “civil servants”.

Others have emphasized that working relations will go on, reading the statement as a weak reaction. The reaction is certainly milder than in 2000, when the Freedom Party first joined a coalition government and Israeli authorities withdrew the Ambassador from Vienna.

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache has traveled to Israel a number of times, and developed ties with representatives of the Israeli right. In one of his last trips, however, late Israeli President Shimon Peres had refused to meet him.

via i24NEWS – Austria pledges to grant citizenship to Holocaust victim descendants

German anti-Semitism commissioner idea backed by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere | DW

Ongoing concern:

Germany’s interior minister has joined the chorus of politicians expressing concern over the burning of Israeli flags in Berlin. Germany’s Central Council of Jews has been calling for an anti-Semitism commissioner.

Acting Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in an interview with German national newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he supports creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government.

The conservative De Maiziere said his support for the commissioner went beyond the most recent incidents — in which Berlin protesters burned Israeli flags to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and was also based on the recommendation of an independent commission of experts.

Germany’s Central Council of Jews has also called repeatedly for an anti-Semitism commissioner to be part of the chancellor’s office.

In the interview, de Maiziere expressed his concern over the increase in anti-Semitic agitation in Germany.

“Each crime motivated by anti-Semitism is one to many and shameful for our country,” he told the paper. He also said that occurrences of derogatory comments, inappropriate jokes and discrimination towards “our fellow Jewish citizens” were on the rise.

“Hatred towards Jews must never be allowed to take hold again in Germany,” he added, alluding to Germany’s historic responsibility for the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed.

His words on the subject of anti-Semitism were the latest to emerge from a German politician in the aftermath of protests in front of the US Embassy in central Berlin and in the immigrant-heavy Neukölln neighborhood.

The minister spoke out in favor of cracking down on protesters’ actions that demonstrate a hatred of Israel, including through police action when possible.

“We cannot tolerate it when a country’s flag is burned in public,” he said. “It is the symbolic annihilation of a country’s right to exist.”

Current German law makes it illegal to burn flags and symbols of a foreign state that have been officially installed. Burning homemade or non-official flags is not a crime, though incitement to violence against Jews is.

De Maiziere said that he found the burning of homemade flags comparable to burning official ones. “I consider the burning of imitation flags to also be a disruption of public security and order.”

De Maiziere’s fellow Christian Democratic (CDU) politician and acting Chancellor Angela Merkel also has denounced the burning of Israeli symbols.

via German anti-Semitism commissioner idea backed by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere | News | DW | 17.12.2017

Holocaust must be bigger part of migrant courses: German minister

Will be interesting to see how the revised Canadian citizenship study guide portrays antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of racism and discrimination:

More emphasis should be placed on the Holocaust in integration courses for migrants, Germany’s justice minister said, reflecting heightened unease among leading politicians about a spate of anti-Semitic acts including Israeli flag burnings.

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany in the last three years, many of them fleeing conflict in the Middle East, causing concern that anti-Semitism could increase.

German police have reported protesters setting Israeli flags ablaze and using anti-Semitic slogans in Berlin and other cities in demonstrations against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a piece for weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Justice Minister Heiko Maas wrote that the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed six million Jews, and its significance needed to become an even more important part of integration courses and migrants should be tested on it in the examination at the end of their course.

“The lessons from the Holocaust need to be one of the guiding ideas in those lessons and not just some chapter of German history,” he said.

“Racism has no place in Germany, so everyone who wants to stay in Germany for the long term needs to be clear that we fight the Neonazis’ anti-Semitism and we won’t tolerate any imported anti-Semitism from immigrants either,” Maas added.

Jens Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), told Der Spiegel he thought immigration from Muslim countries was one of the causes of recent anti-Semitic demonstrations in Berlin.

via Holocaust must be bigger part of migrant courses: German minister

La haine de Louis-Ferdinand Céline se rappelle au présent

Similar issues as with respect to publishing Mein Kampf. Despite this being prepared as a critical edition, likely some will ignore that aspect and misuse the book:

La réédition des pamphlets antisémites, racistes et pro-hitlériens de Louis-Ferdinand Céline, orchestrée en 2012 par une petite maison d’édition de Québec, fait polémique en France depuis quelques jours alors que Gallimard se prépare à la rendre disponible sous sa marque aux lecteurs français dans le courant de l’année 2018.

La diffusion de ces textes sulfureux était interdite jusqu’à aujourd’hui en Europe, à la demande de la veuve de l’auteur. Elle inquiète toutefois le bureau du premier ministre français, Édouard Philippe, qui, par la voix de son délégué à la lutte contre le racisme, a réclamé cette semaine à Antoine Gallimard des détails sur « les conditions d’élaboration de cette édition critique » afin de s’assurer qu’elle ne devienne pas un outil de propagande haineuse. Des craintes non fondées, a indiqué jeudi au Devoir l’éditeur québécois de cette réédition, puisqu’elle est accompagnée d’un « appareil critique » solide qui permet de « démystifier ces textes », mais également de les circonscrire « dans une période close », les années 1936, 1937, 1938 et 1941, qui les a fait naître.

« Garder ces textes dans l’ombre leur conserve un pouvoir de séduction, celui de l’interdit », a résumé l’éditeur Rémi Ferland, propriétaire des Éditions Huit, qui a porté la réédition des pamphlets de Céline sous le titre Écrits polémiques il y a cinq ans. À l’époque, la rage haineuse et le radicalisme destructeur de l’auteur contenus dans ses Mea Culpa, Bagatelles pour un massacre, L’école des cadavres et Les beaux drapsvenaient de tomber dans le domaine public, au Canada seulement, et ce, 50 ans après la mort de l’auteur. « Toutes proportions gardées, la publication de Sade a été longtemps défendue, poursuit-il. Or, la levée de cet interdit n’a assurément pas fait naître de vocation au sadisme, pas plus, à mon humble avis, qu’une édition de Céline n’entraînerait une recrudescence de l’antisémitisme. »

Avec le style efficace et révolutionnaire qu’on lui connaît, Louis-Ferdinand Céline pourfend sans retenue dans ces textes acides les Juifs et attribue à ce peuple tous les maux du monde en le soupçonnant de tenir les ficelles des mondes politique, économique ou culturel. Les préjugés étaient nourris ouvertement par des politiciens et des intellectuels de son temps. Ils ont préparé la voie à l’horreur du génocide qui a marqué l’histoire du XXe siècle. « Dans un contexte où le fléau de l’antisémitisme doit être plus que jamais combattu avec force, les modalités de mise à la disposition du grand public de ces écrits doivent être réfléchies », estime le délégué du premier ministre, Frédéric Potier, dans une lettre adressée à Gallimard et reproduite cette semaine par le site ActuaLitté. Le représentant du gouvernement français rappelle au passage l’importance d’accompagner ces textes d’un « appareillage critique » capable d’« éclairer le contexte historique et idéologique de leur production » et de décrypter les « biais de l’auteur et des erreurs factuelles contenues » dans ces écrits chargés.

Malgré nos appels, il n’a pas été possible de parler à Antoine Gallimard vendredi. Selon nos informations, l’acquisition en novembre dernier des Écrits polémiques auprès des Éditions Huit, pour le marché français, vise bel et bien à assurer ce bon encadrement critique. Cette édition a été établie, présentée et annotée par le spécialiste de l’oeuvre de Céline, Régis Tettamanzi, professeur à l’Université de Nantes et auteur de Céline à l’épreuve (Édition Honoré Champion), qui a collaboré à l’édition de l’oeuvre de Céline dans la prestigieuse collection La Pléiade. Entre autres.

Dans L’esthétique de l’outrage. Idéologie et stylistique dans les pamphlets de L.-F. Céline (1999), M. Tettamanzi reconnaît qu’il est « évidemment dangereux de voir ces textes circuler sans précaution aucune, comme un produit anodin ». Dans l’introduction des Écrits polémiques, il ajoute que l’Internet en a fait justement ce « produit anodin » qui force désormais, selon lui, la republication de ces propos haineux « munis d’un appareil critique qui les fasse échapper, précisément à une lecture banale » et « banalisée ».

Lucette Destouches, la veuve de Céline, aujourd’hui âgée de 105 ans, s’est toujours opposée à la publication des textes antisémites de son mari, respectant ainsi la volonté de Céline qui craignait de son vivant que la réédition de ses propos racistes ne le fasse condamner à mort dans le contexte d’après-guerre. L’édition orchestrée en 2012 par la maison célinophile de Québec a valu d’ailleurs une mise en demeure à l’éditeur dans laquelle Mme Destouches protestait contre ce projet et réclamait que la commercialisation de cet ouvrage de 1044 pages se fasse à l’extérieur des frontières de la France et de l’Union européenne. Gallimard vient donc de la faire changer d’avis en obtenant l’autorisation de publier ce titre qui, depuis 2012, a été vendu à 2400 exemplaires et a fait l’objet de six tirages, selon les informations obtenues auprès des Éditions Huit. L’oeuvre de Céline va entrer dans le domaine public en 2032 en France.

La publication des écrits antisémites de Louis-Ferdinand Céline n’est pas sans rappeler la réédition en 2016 de l’autobiographie d’Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Mon combat), qui avait fait polémique à l’époque, déchirant les tenants de l’interdiction perpétuelle et ceux préconisant au contraire un regard critique et une lecture accompagnée de ces oeuvres pour en saisir l’esprit dévastateur qui semble parfois vouloir se rappeler dans certains discours au mauvais souvenir du présent.

When Hitler’s Henchman Called the Shots in Hollywood


When Germany, Japan, and Italy formed the Axis alliance in November 1937, four months after Japan invaded China, the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo partnership appeared poised to take on the rest of the world.

With the Reich on the move, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels tightened his command over his government’s image at home and abroad. In April 1937, he transferred control of all German film companies to the government and appointed himself as overseer of all productions. Henceforth, the content of domestic films would “fulfill with distinction the National Socialist idea.” As Fritz Wiedemann, now vice president of the Reich Film Chamber, boasted, “There is no such thing as public taste; we can shape that as we will. We have determined political taste; we can do the same with artistic taste.”

Goebbels wanted to keep the United States neutral for as long as possible. That meant stopping Hollywood from producing films intended to sway American public opinion against the Hitler regime. The propaganda chief knew there were many kinds of battles to be fought during the course of war, and he considered the battle to control the mind among the greatest. Goebbels understood a basic truth about the power of cinema: Movies matter the most about the things that people know the least. Many Americans got their first glimpse of what a Nazi rally or storm trooper looked like by watching movies or newsreels. Whether they thought of these people and their ideas as good or bad might well be determined by what they saw and heard on the screen.

By shaping the content of American films, Goebbels hoped to shape the ways in which Americans thought about Hitler and his policies.

With movies being seen by 88 million Americans a week in 1937, and by 150 million people throughout the world, Goebbels feared that a powerful anti-Nazi campaign by Hollywood studios could prove disastrous to German ambitions. Consequently, the propaganda minister turned to Georg Gyssling, German general consul in Los Angeles, for help in manipulating the American psyche. Gyssling cajoled, threatened, and did everything in his power to ensure that the Jewish-dominated studios followed Production Code Administration (PCA) regulations and made no film attacking Hitler or his government.

By 1937 the motion picture business reigned as the nation’s fourth largest industry, with over $2 billion in capital investments. Lavishly paid movie industry leaders accounted for 40 of the 63 Americans earning more than $200,000 in 1937. Topping the list was Louis B. Mayer at $1.3 million, making him the highest paid employee in America. The MGM head earned more in salary that year than the entire U.S. Senate combined. As the number of American films shown in Germany steadily dropped from 61 in 1933–34 to 36 in 1936–37, the moguls were forced to deal with Gyssling if they wanted to protect their studios’ bottom lines and their own high salaries.

During his first three years as consul, Gyssling repeatedly used the threat of imposing Article 15, which refused permits for any film deemed “detrimental to German prestige,” to hammer the moguls into compliance. As German military aggression increased after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Gyssling became even more aggressive with Hollywood, intimidating individual actors and studio employees. When he heard that Malvina Pictures was preparing to release I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany in July 1936, Gyssling contacted the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association and demanded they stop the filming. Based on a true story, the movie recounts the harrowing experience of American journalist Isobel Steele, who was arrested and imprisoned by Nazi authorities on charges of espionage in August 1934. Steele spent four months in solitary confinement at Berlin’s infamous Moabit prison and was deported only after the intervention of the U.S. State Department. Upon her return home, the celebrated journalist wrote numerous stories describing her experiences in Nazi Germany.

via When Hitler’s Henchman Called the Shots in Hollywood