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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Do Seth MacFarlane and Martin Luther Have in Common?

     To many of us, prior to the 2013 Oscar Ceremony, the name "Seth MacFarlane" meant very little. As a matter of fact, the man is widely unknown to most people 35 and older, unless you are part of the entertainment industry. MacFarlane is the creator and the many voices behind the cartoon "Family Guy" that contains nothing I could recommend for family viewing. He is also the director, writer and producer of the recent movie "Ted" starring Mark Wahlberg and an animated nymphomaniac teddy bear with a very dirty mouth. No, I have not turned my blog into a movie review platform, but since I need to bring our attention to MacFarlane's pathetic Oscar performance, I felt it necessary to list some of his credentials.
     I used to await Oscar night with great anticipation when movies were still made to make us think, laugh and cry. The ceremony seldom disappointed, as it was always a perfectly well balanced blend of wit, class and wholesome entertainment. This last Sunday, I did not watch the Oscars, primarily because I had only seen two movies that made the list and I felt a big disconnect between what Hollywood praises and what I consider worth watching.
     The morning after, a plethora of articles and YouTube snippets were a testimony to the horrendous hosting job done my Seth MacFarlane. In short, he bombed! His jokes included some extremely disturbing comments on weight gain, sex, gays, blacks, Lincoln's assassination, Hispanics, pedophilia, and of course Jewish people. None of those topics should ever be used as joke material and hopefully, Hollywood will have learned to choose their host more carefully next time (I do not hold my breath though). While I abhor all these racist and sexist jokes that are usually only used to cover-up for lack of real comedic talent, let me now turn to a skit involving Mark Wahlberg and Ted the teddy bear.


     The recurring myth of the Jews controlling Hollywood (not to mention the banks and Wall Street) was not born yesterday. The "Jewish world domination" syndrome goes back in history and was probably put on the map by "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", a Russian pamphlet first printed in 1903. It was rapidly proven to be a hoax, even though it is still widely disseminated today amongst anti-Semitic circles worldwide.
     Frankly and simply put, if the Jews did indeed control Hollywood, they would have never allowed such an anti-Jewish skit at the Oscars!
     But before I am accused of going on an anti-liberal-right-winged-bigoted witch-hunt, let me make a statement about Mr. MacFarlane. While I clearly believe that his bad taste took over any talent he might have and that there is no excuse for the inappropriateness of his performance, I cannot affirm that he is anti-Semitic.
     This being said, I can tell you that the Ted and Wahlberg skit was scripted in a way that did offend me as a Jew, and that it used several stereotypes that only ignorance at best and anti-Semitism at worse could fuel.
     The real danger with such a performance in front of more than a billion spectators worldwide is that it will unnecessarily promote and encourage others to deliver their own message of hate against Israel and the Jewish people. God knows the world certainly does not need any encouragement in this area. In other words, what the host might have only seen as a joke, could be taken further by somebody encouraged to "finish what MacFarlane started".
     Let me bring this concept a little closer to home if I may. 
     In 1543, Martin Luther published a pamphlet titled "of the Jews and their Lies" that has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to be one of the most virulently judeophobic treatise on the Jewish people. It was towards the end of Luther's life and the reasons for such a diatribe is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, in his pamphlet, Luther was responsible for statements such as:
Now what are we going to do with these rejected, condemned, Jewish people?
… I will give you my true counsel:
…First, that we avoid their synagogues and schools and warn people against them. And such should be done to the glory of God and Christendom, that God may see that we are Christians and have not knowingly tolerated such lying, cursing and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.
…Secondly, that you also refuse to let them own houses among us.
…Thirdly, that you take away from them all of their prayer books and Talmuds wherein such lying, cursing, and blaspheming is taught.
…Fourthly, that you prohibit their Rabbis to teach.
…Fifthly, that protection for Jews on highways be revoked. For you should not and cannot protect them unless you want to be partners of their abominations.
Sixthly, that their usury be prohibited.

     Much more is said in the pamphlet that my article allows me to publish, and while I do not want to take away the incredible contribution that Martin Luther brought to the faith as the father of the Reformation, I cannot forget - neither can my people - what he wrote about the Jews, and the implications it had to this very day.
     History is our witness as writer Lucy Dawidowicz in her book "The War Against the Jews 1933-1945" said that: “The line of anti-Semitic descent from Luther to Hitler is easy to draw.”

     On page 65 of "Mein Kampf", Hitler was quoted saying: "I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Almighty Creator. By fighting the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work."
     Hitler was convinced that he was in the center of God's will as he thrived to completely destroy the Jews. He of course couldn't be further from the truth. 
     Additionally, during his trial at Nuremberg the Nazi propagandist and editor of the infamously anti-Semitic paper "Der Stürmer", Julius Streicher, argued that if he was on trial, Martin Luther should be standing next to him. The weekly paper's motto was nothing else than Luther's expression "The Jews are our misfortune".
     So while I certainly do not wish to compare Seth MacFarlane with Martin Luther in any other fashion, I would argue that both men's verbal attacks on the Jews had similarities. We know from history how Luther's writings were used to decimate my people, as the Nazis were proud to simply be "finishing up what Luther started".
     Mr. MacFarlane, if you do not wish to be responsible for somebody "finishing up what you started", I strongly advise you to stay away from controversial statements against the Jews because they are libelous, destructive and eventually you will have the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to reckon with. 

     It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Sting of Antisemitism: What We Can Learn from Europe

     I left Paris 28 years ago and decided to make America my home. Back then; the dream of being successful, respected and appreciated in the "Land of Opportunity" was a major reason why I left my "Old Europe" behind.
     Having been raised by a Jewish father who survived WWII and a Jewish mother who escaped the Holocaust after seeing her dad taken by the Gestapo from her own home when she was 15, I was aware of my Jewish heritage. I can't say that I fully understood or even appreciated that heritage, yet I was often reminded that we were Jewish, a fact that I was told not to advertise in school, just to be safe.
     I was never called a "Christ Killer" as a child or other derogatory names to describe Jewish people. Being born only 14 years after WWII, I can safely say that during my youth, the ghost of anti-Semitism while not dead, was quietly hiding behind the scenes, suppressed by European corporate guilt.
     Suppressed it was, but not for a very long time! As a matter of fact, the numbers are out for France and we saw a surge of anti-Semitism from 389 acts in 2011 to 614 in 2012, which is a 58% increase. Another alarming statistic is the fact that 50% of all xenophobic attacks in France in 2012 were against Jews. We certainly remember the tragedy of March 2012 when, after murdering three French solidiers in Montauban, Mohammed Merah barged into the courtyard of a Toulouse Jewish school and killed a rabbi/teacher and three children to "avenge the Palestinians"as he said. The sad part is that instead of giving France a "wake-up" call and prompting the country to work together against such crimes, it had the adverse effect of encouraging more radical acts of anti-Semitism, as we witnessed six more cases of aggravated assault against Jewish people in the months following "l'Affaire Merah". Yes, in the eyes of some, Mohammed Merah had become a hero!
     Additionally, these numbers represent all "reported" incidents, and it is well known that acts of anti-semitism are greatly under-reported either because of fear from the victim(s) or often cowardliness from the authorities. So realistically, numbers are higher that what has been published.
     There is no question in the mind of the Jewish community of France that the Toulouse massacre has become a clear marker on the ever-growing timeline of European antisemitism. As French writer and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, Michel Gurfinkiel states, that the future of Jews in France is looking very bleek:

"The second half of the 20th century was a golden age for French Jews, both in terms of numbers (from 250,000 souls in 1945 to 700,000 in 1970 due to population transfers and natural growth) and in terms of religious and cultural revival. There was only one shadow: the French government's anti-Israel switch engineered by Charles de Gaulle in 1966, in part as a consequence of a more global anti-American switch. The 21st century may however be a much darker age. After a first wave of anti-Jewish violence in the early 2000s, some Jews left for Israel or North America. Emigration never really ceased since then, and may soon reach much more important proportions."1

     To be sure, the Toulouse massacre was not the only antisemitic act leading to death out of France in recent years. Back in 2003, Sebastien Selam, a Jewish disc jockey, was stabbed to death by his neighbor and "friend" Abdel Amastaibou. Then in 2006, Jewish man Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured for three weeks and burned all over his body before being dumped by the railroad tracks to eventually die on the way to the hospital. The leader of the "Gang of Barbarians" Youssouf Fofana, responsible for the death of Halimi, eventually got "life in prison". A prison from which he has the time and ability to create and publish antisemitic videos, recently published on the web. As a result, Fofana was just sentenced to 7 more years added to the minimum of 22 years before he could be out on parole.    
     All these crimes were committed by "devout" Muslims, and while it must be re-iterated that NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE JEW KILLERS, the last 9 deaths of Jewish people in France were all at the hands of radical Muslims.
     So, what can the United-States learn from the state of Antisemitism in Europe? As I see it, there are only three options: Ignore, move-out, or fight back!

1. Can we IGNORE Antisemitism?
     This question obviously begs for only one kind of answer: NO! Yet when we look around and witness the reactions of the media, government agencies and political figures, one is to wonder how much the world really cares about the monster of Judeophobia.
     French President Jacques Chirac in an interview with the New York Times in 2002 said:
"To imagine that France, the very first country to recognize the rights of Jews, could be Antisemitic, is propaganda, not reality"
     What color was the sky in your world Mr. Chirac? Well, to be fair, I must also mention that Mr. Chirac within a year after that statement, felt like adding that: "Attacking a Jew in France is an attack on all of France". Wow, quite a different statement from someone who one year prior declared that Antisemitism didn't exist in his country!
     Nicolas Sarkozy has done very little to combat "La Nouvelle Judeophobie" as French author Pierre-André Taguieff calls it. His relations with Netanyahu took a turn for the worse when he was recorded calling him a liar in a conversation he had with President Obama.
     As for François Hollande, he has the remainder of his 5 year mandate to "put his money where his mouth is", so to speak. As Europe continues to ostracize Jews in Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, Hungary and Spain to list just a few European countries, France, far from being immune to the "oldest hatred" is going to have to realize that antisemitism CANNOT BE IGNORED.

     As for us in the United-States, it is time we stop pointing the finger across the ocean to denigrate "those antisemites" on the other side, because we have plenty of work to do in our own backyard.
     Campus antisemitism is on the rise all across the country and remains basically unchallenged if not encouraged in some cases by school officials and the media.
     Muslim enclaves such as the Dearborn, Michigan are promoting hate and violence against Jews (and Christians for that matter). It has now become dangerous to walk some areas of Dearborn if you are Jewish, Christian or even slightly pro-Israel.
     As much as we try to define and re-define the commonalities and differences between Antisemitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism, we need to accept that they are all rooted in a hatred for the worldwide Jew whoever he/she might be, wherever he/she might live, and whatever he/she might have done. The Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement is a perfect symptom of that chronic disease. SIMPLY PUT, WE CANNOT IGNORE ANTISEMITISM.

2. Should Natives MOVE OUT Because of Antisemitism?
     Great Britain has one of the most virulent Muslim communities in Western Europe. Muslim leaders such as Anjem Choudary who was behind the organization known as "sharia4UK"are very vocal proponents of Sharia implementation. Choudary has publicly proclaimed that sharia in the UK and the US is inevitable, but only a matter of time:
"I am 100 percent certain that the sharia will be implemented in America and in Britain one day. The question is, 'when?' and how it will come to fruition."2
     While Britons might be pondering about the future of their country, Belgium and the Netherlands are starting to see a flow of their respective natives leave their countries because of the rise of radical Islam and how it creates an atmosphere not conducive to "coexistence". Belgium even had its first Muslim Brotherhood Expo in 2012. Additionally, the Dutch Jewish community feels the need to flee the Netherlands because of Muslim influence making their own neighborhoods unsafe.
     Likewise, the French Jewish community has felt very uneasy for the last decade. As a matter of fact, the constant fear of Antisemitism has led many French Jews to immigrate to Israel or the United-States.
     Looking at the situation in Dearborn, Michigan or even other areas of the United-States where Islam is growing exponentially, I ask myself this question: "Why are we allowing a people group made of various ethnic background but sharing the same ideology to dictate what should take place in a country that welcomed them in the first place?"
     By all means if our country is too liberal, worldly or wicked for you...Just go back to where you came from, but please do not come to our cities, schools, governments and media outlets to tell us that we must comply with your barbaric medieval ideology. You are also doing a disfavor to the many Muslims who are very comfortable in a western civilization, and last time I checked they were still a majority. IF YOU DON'T LIKE US, FEEL FREE TO LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, BUT I WILL MOST CERTAINLY STAY HERE.

3. Should We Fight Against Antisemitism?
     I have come to the very sad realization that most people don't bother fighting against Antisemitism. It is too often ignored for lack of understanding or even worse, because of of a chronically apathetic condition of our postmodern society.
     While I frankly believe that the last 2000 years should serve as our teacher, if antisemitism still need to be defined, it is our responsibility to do so. But defining is only the first step, because once we have identified the problem and its source(s), it is incumbent on us to develop the tools and platforms to fight Antisemitism.
     Various organizations have sprung up in the last few decades in Europe to keep track, report and fight Antisemitism. Their work is tedious and emotionally draining, yet critical. They keep us all abreast of what is happening.
     We should also be aware of the history of the Jewish people through the lens of Antisemitism and I could recommend the reading of one book to start, and that is the superb work by Catholic priest Edward Flannery dated back to 1965 "The Anguish of the Jews". 3
     Additionally, we should speak up when we witness either words or deeds against the Jewish people. It should concern us as much as it concerns them. Reporting to the authorities is also necessary even if we feel that little might be done. IF WE DON'T SPEAK UP, WHO WILL?
     Europe should serve as a barometer for Antisemitism. We Americans can no longer ignore the gravity of the situation or try to convince themselves that it is Europe's problem not ours. We cannot ignore or move-out, and we must fight back!
     In a few days on the 14th of Adar (Feb 24, 2013), Jewish people around the world will celebrate the Feast of Purim and remember how a loving and just God protected the children of Israel against the enemy Persian Empire. The Book of Esther will be read in synagogues and we will be reminded that Esther was brave enough to speak up on behalf of her people.
     It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or not, but as you realize that the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people is at stake, you must do your part and speak up. After all it isn't just the welfare of the Jewish people that is in danger but also the welfare of western civilization as a whole. I would like to believe that in preserving western civilization, we also carve a place of respect for those of Muslim upbringing who want to live with us in harmony. Anything less would be unbiblical.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

1. Michel Gurfunkiel, Middle East Forum: No Future in France: Dire Times for French Jews (Aug. 2012). http://www.meforum.org/3304/french-jews.

2. Anjem Choudary on CBN News World: UK Islamist Leader:Islam will dominate America (Aug. 2012) http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2012/August/UK-Islamist-Leader-Islam-Will-Dominate-America/.

3. Flannery, Edward: The Anguish of the Jews: 23 Centuries of Christian Antisemitism (Quest Books, 1965)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

American Campuses: A New Breeding Ground for a New Judeophobia!

     Judeophobia is defined as the fear and hatred of Jewish people and is somewhat synonymous with anti-Semitism. The very word used to describe this unique fear of Jewish people contains the suffix phobia (Greek for fear). It is common for people to fear something that they do not understand, and, like in the case of all phobias, Judeophobia is an irrational and abnormal fear never based on facts.

     While it is never my intention to diminish the gravity of Judeophobia and of all other kinds of xenophobias for that matter, I must admit that I, along with those of us who witness and fight this kind of hatred, have grown accustomed to its various sources.

     We expect it to come from Middle eastern countries or terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, as it is indoctrinated in the minds of young children at an age when their only dilemma should be about which toy to play with. It starts as a cultural indoctrination that serves as a base for a further, deeper and more hateful ideological and or religious indoctrination. It is almost as if it has become part of the DNA of certain people groups.

     We also expect it from numerous European countries such as Hungary, France, Poland, Spain and England amongst others. The roots of that old weed run very deep into a post-Christian soil that has been deprived of any nutrients from biblical Christianity for centuries. There was a stump of anti-Semitism left in the European soil after the Holocaust. Small and apparently insignificant shoots came out at first, but a civilized post World War Two community was determined to nip it in the bud, and so they did, at least originally. In reality, the stump became the base for the sequoia of a revived old-fashioned racial anti-Semitism.

     Yet there is a new breeding ground for a new Judeophobia and it is found on university campuses all over the United-States. Cowardly hiding behind the First Amendment of 1791, many public figures borne of the leftist intelligentsia, currently promote anti-Semitism from classroom to classroom across campuses. Beware of your criticism of their vitriol, lest you be accused of hatred and intolerance yourself. It was only days ago that a very disturbing event took place in New York at Brooklyn College. The New York institution includes between 20 and 25% Jewish students who for the most part (along with many Jewish AND non-Jewish supporters of Israel) were stupefied when they heard of the school's decision to sponsor such an event promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS). Two speakers were featured. Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler.

     Mr. Barghouti is a founding member of The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. He is also one of the starters of the 2005 BDS movement. No stranger to American campuses, Mr. Barghouti travels extensively across our nation to promote the BDS ideology, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and calling for the boycott of many Israeli products and companies.

     His message of hate gets placated across American campuses where he can be heard making statements such as this one: Many of the methods of collective and individual"punishment" meted out to Palestinian civilians at the hands of young, racist, often sadistic and ever impervious Israeli soldiers at the hundreds of checkpoints littering the occupied Palestinian territories are reminiscent of common Nazi practices against the Jews.

     Just days before his appearance at Brooklyn College, Mr. Barghouti was at Yale, University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Irvine (UCI). But, he was invited to Brooklyn College in the name of "Freedom of Expression". Political correctness strikes again!

     Ironically, this man is currently working on a doctorate in Philosophy at, and I hope you're ready for this? Tel Aviv University in Israel. Consider some of the Israeli related brands an inventions Mr. Barghouti should ALSO boycott to be ethical and consistent: Intel, Windows software, the USB flash drive, IBM, Cisco, Motorola, the Cell Phone and Instant Messaging, to name just a few. In all honesty, a full boycott would affect Mr. Barghouti's research and writing quite a bit. Now, isn't that the epitome of hypocrisy from a man who promotes BDS so passionately?

     As for Ms. Judith Butler, "a self-hating Jew" by any standard, her presence was also problematic from the standpoint of any honest intellectual dialogue. Ms. Butler is a professor in the rhetoric and comparative literature department at UC Berkeley. She is also on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Ms. Butler delivered a speech at Brooklyn College that at first glance appeared to be balanced and in favor of peace in the Middle East, but the foundation of her message is so flawed that it makes it impossible to take it seriously.

     Ms. Butler was unfortunately not interested in any dialogue (even though it is the message that JVP promo video clearly sends, albeit constructed on a very false premise). She clearly wanted to deliver a monologue of finger pointing and unjustified demonization of Israel. I find it very interesting when she claims that: The state of Israel doesn't represent all Jews, and not all Jews understand themselves as represented by the state of Israel. In theory, I think she is right, but then we have to honestly ask ourselves why is it then that whenever the Knesset passes a new law or a new settlement is planned or erected, Jews all over the world become the recipients of anti-Semitism by proxy? What should the building of a settlement in Israel have to do with the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Eastern Europe or the fire bombing of a synagogue in South America?

     To be sure, not all critic of Israel should be labeled as anti-Semitic, yet I see the BDS movement attempt at indoctrinating students all over America as nothing else than a catalyst for further acts of deligitimization of Israel. I do not have anything against the very concept of boycotting as long as it is done for the right cause and that it is consistent even if not always convenient.

     American campuses have become very conducive to hate speech against Israel in the name of Freedom of Expression. It is almost always a tirade of lies built on a false foundation never checked by a quasi-intellectual leftist audience. Our campuses used to be platforms for education, dialogue and training of the next generation. Today it seems that Judeophobic propaganda has become a common thread across our nation's university campuses. This doesn't promise a very glorious future for American Jews unless we fight for the truth!