Actor Mel Gibson at the 89th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 26, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Mike Blake.
Abraham Foxman is the National Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor. He is the author of several books, including Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. He recently spoke with me about a number of topics related to antisemitism.
Alan Zeitlin (AZ): What is the greatest threat to Jews in America?
Abraham Foxman (AF): The greatest threat to Jews in America continues to be assimilation, but right next … is antisemitism. Antisemitism has always been a serious element is the American fabric. Until we find a vaccine or an antidote against antisemitism, it will continue to be a serious element of our environment. When I started, the virus infected 33 percent. Now we are talking about 12 to 15 percent. We have managed to build a firewall to keep it in the sewers with the covers on. [But] the firewall [is] … falling apart.
AZ: What do you make of those who say they are anti-Zionist and not antisemitic? Do you believe them?
AF: There are a few people in the world who are anti-nationalist, who don’t accept any nationalism — Jewish, Palestinian, or French. [But] overwhelmingly today, to be anti-Zionist — which means to be anti-Jewish sovereignty — is antisemitism. Even the Pope wrote that to challenge the legitimacy of the Jewish state is antisemitism.
AZ: Were you surprised by the recent New York Times cartoon?
AF: Nothing surprises me anymore. If you have a newspaper that historically neglected to talk about the Holocaust … unwilling to support the establishment of the Jewish state … that’s not surprising. Some of the people working there feel that this is okay. At the same time, I’m glad they finally [are coming] to grips with the issue, and we’ll see what happens down the road.
AZ: Some in the media said President Trump should be blamed for the two synagogue shootings? Do you agree?
AF: To blame the president for it is wrong. He needs to be held accountable but it’s not his fault. The antisemites in Charlottesville or Pittsburgh or Poway were not created by Donald Trump or by his rhetoric. They were there as part of America’s milieu. What Trump did was legitimize some of the rhetoric. Once it goes public, you remove the sewer covers. He’s not responsible, but he should be held accountable for a rhetoric that some read and understand as [approval] for acting out.
AZ: Some call him a white supremacist.
AF: He’s not an antisemite. He’s not a white supremacist. He called himself a nationalist so where do you go from there?
AZ: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)’s Twitter comments that Israel has hypnotized the world and another saying Jews buy political support were seen by some as antisemitic. Yet the House passed a measure condemning all hate. Was that enough?
AF: We live in an age when you should call it what it is. It was antisemitism. There’s no reason to camouflage or euphemize it. Unfortunately, everything is politicized and taken to the extreme. Sometimes by playing that game, it doesn’t serve the Jewish people in the fight against antisemitism.
AZ: Should high school curricula be changed to include more about the Holocaust?
AF: Yes. Six states mandate it. The problem is much deeper. In American schools, we don’t teach history or geography. Many students are ignorant of World War II, and why we fought the war. They don’t know we lost hundreds of thousands of young men and women who went to fight Nazism, [so] how would you expect them to know about the Holocaust? We spend a lot of time on the Middle Ages, but when it comes to modern times, we gloss it over. … We need to teach more because “Never Again” is part of Jewish history, but it’s not limited to Jews. It’s a universal lesson never to be silent when anyone is singled out for who they are, what they are, the color of their skin, their ethnicity, or their gender. It’s teaching about hate.
AZ: Is the media’s handling of the rise in antisemitism acceptable?
AF: Through the years that I was head of the ADL, we issued reports on acts of antisemitism. We did polling. We did surveys. Nobody covered it. The Jewish media sort of covered it, but more as an afterthought. Now, all of a sudden, it is covered. I’m not sure how good or bad it is. On the one hand, people now know how serious it is, and we tried to tell them for many years. On the other hand, there’s an element of copycats. People see you can get away with [committing antisemitic acts]. … If I had my choice, I would want it to be public.
AZ: Do you think Mel Gibson should be forgiven, and is it problematic that it was reported he will be playing a rich Jew named Rothschild?
AF: Forgiven? I don’t think he’s asked forgiveness. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with Mel Gibson. I don’t think he’s ever really asked forgiveness, although he tried to do enough so that he could go into the [acting] profession again. I’m not sure about this film. I remember a couple of years ago they said he was going to play Judah Maccabee. This could be PR for his image. … I’ m more skeptical.
AZ: Some are greatly concerned by the BDS movement, and others say it’s not a big deal because nothing is binding. Is it a concern of yours?
AF: I grew up in the ’60s, with anti-Vietnam protests. It was no picnic to stand up for Israel and Zionism in the ’60s. There were the same 25 to 35 universities that had an anti-Israel bias. To some extent, it’s a continuation. I don’t think any of these movements are hurting Israel. What I’m worried about are future generations. Most college students [don’t know the truth about Israel and only] experience snippets. I worry 20 years from now that some of these students will grow up and remember a poster that Israel is apartheid state. … It’s more propaganda than anything else. But it has made Jewish students feel uncomfortable and threatened. … Today, Jewish students might not wear a Chai or a Magen David like they used to. So it has a psychological impact on their identity and their pride.
AZ: What should be done to fight antisemitism?
AF: We need to rebuild the firewall. We need to again — through legislation, through litigation, through education, through building coalitions — we need to reset the taboos. We need to deliver a message that there are consequences to hateful behavior. The United States Constitution guarantees someone’s right to be an antisemite or a bigot, but our society can set a price on it. Mel Gibson paid a price. Not by legislation or litigation, but our society said you cannot be a bigot and be a big shot in Hollywood. I think we need to bring that back.
The last political campaign destroyed taboos. It destroyed this sense of right and wrong, [and] of what you can say and what you can’t say. We need to rebuild that and say that certain language and behavior is immoral and unacceptable in America
Rabbi Shlomo Tawil, co-director of the Chabad House in Rosario, Argentina. Photo: Facebook.
JNS.org – Rabbi Shlomo Tawil, director of Chabad-Lubavitch in Rosario, Argentina, was recovering at home after being assaulted by three youths on Sunday night during the holiday of Shavuot.
According to neighbors who came to the rabbi’s aid, the attackers shouted antisemitic insults at the rabbi, and began hitting him in the head and abdomen, reported Chabad.org.They then threw him to the floor, kicked him and trampled his hat before fleeing.
A Palestinian man inspects the site of an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip, June 14, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.
Thousands of Palestinians rioted on the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Friday, hurling rocks, firebombs and explosive devices at IDF troops.
Also on Friday, numerous blazes were ignited in southern Israel by incendiary balloons sent over the border from Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Early Friday morning, the Israeli Air Force struck several Hamas targets in Gaza, in response to a rocket attack the previous night in which a religious school in Sderot was damaged.
On May 31, the cry went out from Times Square, New York City, to annihilate Israel and extend the terror war against the Jewish state to America.
As they did in Beirut, Berlin, London, Tehran, and Dearborn, Michigan, Israel-haters gathered at Times Square to call for Israel’s dissolution on the day the Iranian regime has determined to be “Al Quds Day,” that is, Jerusalem Day.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) posted a video of the event. In it, a series of speakers called over and over again for Israel’s annihilation, voiced support for terrorists and terrorism and called for the war against Israel to come to New York.
Nate Chase from the World Workers’ Party led the crowd in chanting, “We don’t want not two state! We want ’48!”
Leftists have never been as humorless, unfunny and touchy as they are now. And they’ve never poured as much time and money into late night comedy, Netflix comedy specials and assorted people angrily shouting things about Trump and their confused sexual identities into a microphone, as they are now.
Comedy, as supported by billion-dollar media corporations based in blue states that would legalize killing babies and heroin before they would permit gun ownership, has returned to its roots in Greek political life. Except the ancient Greeks thought that people insulting each other’s politics was funny and the modern Proggies think that the insults should be one-sided and delivered in an echo chamber.
The UCLA Daily Bruin and its editorial staff have made a mockery of the concept of a free press, opening their pages to terrorist political organizations and closing them to the opponents of terrorist propaganda and Jew hatred. The Bruin’s allegiance to the destroy-Israel left and failure to observe the core principles of journalism in a democracy was glaringly obvious in its coverage of a recent student government ruling.
The resolution passed on Tuesday, May 21, by the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association asserted that—contrary to all evidence and a long history of spreading the genocidal lies of Hamas terrorists, and harassing Jewish students and their invited speakers— the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is not anti-Semitic.
The long-running dispute revolves — most recently — around an effort by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, a cross-party formation of around two-dozen MPs in the British Parliament, to institutionalize the definition of Islamophobia in racial rather than religious terms.
The proposed definition has been opposed by many Britons, including British Muslims, who warn that it would effectively shield Islam from scrutiny and valid criticism.
The New York Times claimed that President Donald Trump does not care about his re-election campaign or about the policies he would seek to enact during a second term.
“In a recent overarching state-of-the-race briefing in Florida with Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, Mr. Trump was consistently distracted and wanted to discuss other things,
The New York Times got quite a scoop when, in an interview with its Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he favored Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. That was the lede of Halbfinger’s article, as well as in the headline. And that was also the way the story was played in virtually every one of the many publications that picked up on the story.
Every movement has a mission statement. “Make America Great Again” is the conservative one. (It’s the “Again” part that makes it conservative.) The enemies of making America great have one too.
If the radicals had red hats, they would say, “They’re Out To Get You.”
TOTGY has been the leftist motto since before Marx learned to shave and then decided to stop doing it. The arc of history may bend toward many places, but the black rainbow serviced by a snarling leprechaun with a PhD and a cocaine problem always begins and ends in the same paranoid place.
In certain circumstances, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said last week, Washington would recognize the annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.
As expected, Friedman’s comments led to fierce criticism. The Palestinians already call him the “settler spokesman.”
But in fact, instead of blaming the settlers, the Palestinians can only blame themselves. And given that we are in the era of “narratives,” namely, lies that pretend to be history, we should pay attention to the facts.