Posts Tagged ‘anti-Semitic’

Poland’s eurosceptic leaders, far right mark independence centenary at mass march

November 11, 2018

Poland’s eurosceptic leaders marked a century of national independence on Sunday as more than 200,000 people marched through the capital in a parade involving far-right groups and neo-fascist activists from Italy.

The march is a focus of debate about whether the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) tacitly encourages groups with roots in the fascist and anti-Semitic movements. The party won power in 2015 and Poland has since become increasingly isolated in Europe amid accusations of a tilt towards authoritarian rule.

Polish Neo Nazis (picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Sokolowski)

Some 200,000 people marched through Warsaw on Sunday.

Some marchers in Warsaw chanted: “Away with the EU” but there was no sign of white supremacist banners visible at last year’s march.

Government officials walked at a distance from the main marchers, away from any overt displays of nationalism, and they were kept separate by security forces.

“Thank you for coming here, for Poland, and for bringing the white and red (Polish) flag which saw our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers spill their blood,” President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, said at the start of the march.

“There is space for everyone under our flags,” he said.

Several hundred meters behind the government column, participants held banners saying “God, Honour, Homeland” and launched red flares, blanketing sections of the march with smoke.

Some chanted: “Pride, pride, national pride” and “Yesterday it was Moscow, today it is Brussels, stripping us of our sovereignty.”

Warsaw’s city mayor sought to ban a far-right march held on Nov. 11 annually for almost a decade but a court overruled her.

The government then agreed with organizers after last-minute talks to hold a joint event to mark a 100 years since Poland’s 1918 declaration of independence after an 18th century partition by Russia, Austria and Germany.

“It was the biggest march of free Poles in a free Poland ever,” government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska told state PAP news agency.


Last year, the annual far-right march was dotted with racist banners such as “pure blood, clear mind” and “Europe will be white or uninhabited”.

Those slogans fueled concern about the rise of xenophobia in Poland at a time when other European countries are also grappling with a resurgence of the far right.

PiS says it rejects anti-Semitism and racism but critics accuse it of quietly siding with the far-right.

While insisting Poland should remain in the EU, PiS refuses to allow immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa into the country, and says more decision-making power should be moved from Brussels to national capitals.

The party taps into frustration with liberal values and anti-establishment sentiment that has galvanized far-right voters in other parts of Europe. It promises more Catholic faith and patriotism in public life and more state say in the economy.

“Remember the shameful slogans of last year’s Nov. 11 march?,” centrist lawmaker Marcin Kierwinski said on Twitter on Saturday. “A year later, their authors are meeting with the president and prime minister instead of a prosecutor.”

Some participants carried banners with religious and anti-abortion images.

“The organizers of the Independence March … are great patriots. In our times, the youth wasn’t this patriotic,” said Teresa Radzikowska, a 70-year-old retiree from central Poland who attended the march.

Before the late-night agreement with the government on Friday to hold a joint event, organizers had said they expected the march to be the biggest far-right event in Europe in years.

One foreign participant said he came to Warsaw because Poland “had not lost its national identity.”

“You’ve not bowed down to Islam and you’re not bowing down to globalism either,” said James Goddard, who traveled from Leicester in central England just for the march.

On Nov. 11 Poles commemorate the establishment of the second Polish republic in 1918 from territory seized by its eastern and Western neighbors in the 18th century, made possible by the defeat of Russia, Germany and Austria in World War One. World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday to mark the end of the war.

Additional reporting by Pawel Sobczak, Kacper Pempel and Karol Witenberg, writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg



EU’s Donald Tusk denounces Polish government as ‘contemporary Bolsheviks’

November 11, 2018

The European Council head has criticized the Law and Justice party-led government for repeatedly clashing with the EU. Donald Tusk has also warned against the emergence of a nationalist front in EU elections next year.

European Council President Donald Tusk delivering a lecture Lodz, Poland.

European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday lashed out at Poland’s ruling politicians, likening them to “contemporary Bolsheviks” who threaten the country’s independence.

Tusk, seen as a likely contender in Poland’s 2020 presidential election, was speaking in the city of Lodz on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence after 123 years of being partitioned between Prussia, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The former Polish prime minister paid homage to Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, who led the victory over the Bolsheviks’ Red Army in 1920, and ex-Polish President Lech Walesa, who challenged Poland’s Soviet-backed communist rule during the 1980s.

“Jozef Pilsudski was facing a more difficult situation than we have today when he was conquering the Bolsheviks and in fact, defending the Western community against political barbarians,” Tusk said in a gathering of intellectuals and politicians.

“Walesa had a more difficult situation when he was conquering the Bolsheviks in a symbolic way, when he was bringing out the European, the freedom, the national values in us. But he managed,” he continued.

“Why shouldn’t you be able to defeat the contemporary Bolsheviks?” Tusk said to great applause.

‘Threat to Poland’

Tusk denounced the euroskeptic government led by the conservative Law and Justice party as a threat to Poland. The Polish government has repeatedly clashed with the European Union over issues such as judicial reform, immigration and the environment.

“Whoever today in Poland takes steps against our strong position in a united Europe is really taking steps against Poland’s independence,” Tusk said.

Deputy Senate Speaker Adam Bielan hit back at Tusk, saying he was trying to divide Poles and provoke conflict on the eve of a big national holiday.

Security has been stepped up in Warsaw ahead of a joint march by the ruling party and far-right groups to celebrate the 100th anniversary of independence.

Past independence day marches held by far-right nationalists featured racist slogans, white supremacist symbols and aggressive behavior.

‘Brownshirt’ nationalist front

In an interview published Saturday by the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Tusk also warned against the emergence of a nationalist front in European Parliament elections next year.

“It cannot be ruled out that there will be two streams represented: one in the colors of the brownshirts — anti-European and focused on nationalism, and the second which wants to push as much as possible for EU integration,” he said.

Tusk spoke of rising anti-European sentiment in several capitals, saying some forces wanted “conflict rather than cooperation, disintegration rather than integration.”

ap/amp (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)


Poland risks controversy on independence centenary

November 11, 2018

 Poles mark a century of independence on Sunday amid tensions in the deeply polarised country over the prominent role that marginal far-right groups gained in shaping the main state parade.

Chaos engulfed plans for the state military parade in Warsaw just days ahead of the centenary, as far-right groups vowed to use the same route and timing for their controversial annual independence day march.

Last year’s edition of that march drew global outrage when some participants displayed racist and anti-immigrant banners and slogans. Its organisers include the National Radical Camp (ONR), a group with roots stretching back to an anti-Semitic pre-World War II movement.

© AFP/File | The 2017 edition of the independence day march in Warsaw drew global outrage

Groups of this nature are marginal in Poland.

In a bid to avoid a similar debacle on the centenary, the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government and allied President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday announced the state military parade, insisting that it had legal priority.

But the far-right groups refused to back down after a Warsaw court overruled a separate ban imposed by the capital’s mayor citing the risk of violence and hate speech.

The PiS government spent Friday in a tug of war with far-right groups over the scheduling of the two events. The sides confirmed late Friday that they would coincide.

PiS Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has vowed that authorities would act “decisively” against any public display of fascist symbols or slogans, something that is banned by law in Poland.

“There is a clear red line between patriotic behaviour and nationalistic or chauvinistic (behaviour), or neo-Nazis,” he told the foreign press corps on Thursday.

– Collision course –

Underscoring Poland’s growing isolation in the European Union since the PiS took office in 2015, no senior delegations from fellow EU states are due to show up for the centenary coinciding with the Armistice that ended World War I.

The government has put Poland on a collision course with the EU by introducing a string of controversial judicial reforms that Brussels has warned pose a threat to judicial independence, the rule of law and ultimately to democracy.

EU President Donald Tusk, a former liberal Polish prime minister, will be the bloc’s only senior representative in Warsaw on Sunday and his visit comes amid speculation that he may return to run for president in 2020.

Speaking on Saturday in the central Polish city of Lodz, Tusk likened the PiS to “contemporary Bolsheviks” who must be “defeated”.

He also repeated a warning that the party could unwittingly unleash a “Polexit” from the EU despite the bloc’s strong popularity among Poles and the many assurances of PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski that his party has no such designs.

Widely regarded as Poland’s de facto powerbroker, Kaczynski has played a key role behind the scenes in shaping both domestic and foreign policy since the PiS took office. He and Tusk are arch-rivals.

– ‘Most successful’ –

Poles will pause nationwide at the stroke of noon on Sunday to sing their national anthem as part of the centenary celebrations.

It will be a rare show of unity in the EU and NATO country of 38 million people that has become increasingly polarised since the PiS took office in 2015.

While robust economic growth coupled with the government’s generous social welfare measures and conservative stance have garnered it support mainly in rural areas, its judicial reforms have also sparked outrage among urban centrists and liberals.

“We’re talking about two separate Polands: one liberal, worried about the free market and civil freedoms, and the other, conservative, statist, wanting to control everything and everyone,” Stanislaw Mocek, a Warsaw-based political analyst, told AFP.

But Norman Davies, an Oxford historian and a renowned authority on Poland, insists that despite the recent turmoil “Poles have never had it so good”.

Before November 1918, Poland did not exist at all for 123 years, carved up between the Prussian, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires.

“From all those countries (that regained independence in 1918), Poland has been the most successful… not only in economic terms but also in terms of political stability, constitutional consensus and geopolitical security” within NATO, Davies said, speaking at a recent security conference in Warsaw.


Louis Farrakhan, in Iran, warns Trump a Mideast war possible

November 8, 2018

Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, is warning President Donald Trump not to pull “the trigger of war in the Middle East at the insistence of Israel.”

Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, is long known for provocative comments and is widely considered anti-Semitic. (File/AFP)

His remarks came during a visit to Iran where Farrakhan spoke to journalists in Tehran on Thursday.

The 85-year-old Farrakhan, long known for provocative comments widely considered anti-Semitic, criticized the economic sanctions leveled by Trump against Iran after he pulled America from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Farrakhan says he’s “begging our president and the government that supports him to be very, very careful.”

He said: “The war will trigger another kind of war which will bring China, Russia, all of the nations into a war. The war will end America as you know it.”

Arab News

Is The World Becoming More Hostile To Jews?

November 5, 2018

In a lengthy interview with Jonathan Goldstein on the threat posed by Labour anti-Semitism under Corbyn. Then came Pittsburgh, raising concerns to a whole new level

I live in Jerusalem, where 15-18 years ago we endured a strategic onslaught of Palestinian terrorism — suicide bombers blowing up our buses, restaurants, shopping malls. Like many Israelis, we wondered if we were irresponsible, insane: We’d chosen to raise our family in the Jewish state, the supposed refuge for the Jewish nation, and now we were risking our lives simply by stepping out of the front door to take our kids to school or go to work, while our Jewish peers in the US and the UK were safe, unthreatened, and so deeply tolerated they didn’t even stop to ask themselves whether they were tolerated.

Last month, I went to London, my city of birth, for a few days, and interviewed one of the leaders of the Jewish community, Jonathan Goldstein, who has been at the forefront of the outcry against anti-Semitism in the opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. I wanted to understand how troubling the situation has become for Britain’s Jews — how they see their future should Corbyn become prime minister, how they think the wider British public feels about them, whether they believe themselves to be in real danger, what to make of opinion polls suggesting that four in 10 of them might leave the country if Corbyn succeeds Theresa May.

Image result for Jonathan Goldstein, march 2018, photos

Jonathan Goldstein addressing a rally outside Parliament, March 2018. Photo by Marc Morris / Jewish News

Israel’s US ambassador slams Turkey, Qatar for attempting to ‘ruin’ Saudi-US relationship

November 4, 2018

Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has used a recent panel discussion to slam global double standards with regard to the world’s outcry over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and criticism of the US’ decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and impose sanctions.


Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has used a recent panel discussion to slam Turkish, Qatari attempts to ruin the Saudi-US relationship. (AFP)

Dermer said: “It is hard for me to take seriously statements of outrage that (the murder) caused and the calls for a fundamental change to the relationship with Saudi Arabia, when (the same people) supported an agreement that gave an avowed enemy of the US hundreds of billions of dollars.”



He added: “If we are outraged by the murder of one, we should be five-hundred thousand times more outraged by the murder of five-hundred thousand,” citing how the nuclear deal had “enabled” Bashar Assad to kill 500,000 innocent Syrians.

He also highlighted the external forces that continue to attempt to ruin Saudi Arabia’s relationships with the US.

Dermer referenced Turkish and Qatari moves to drive a wedge between the Kingdom and the United States in the aftermath of the murder of Khashoggi.

Dermer said: “Turkey and Qatar are pressing hard to ruin relationships with Saudi Arabia,” as he criticized Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera for spreading anti-American and anti-semitic messages.

Dermer said the US had to be careful about throwing away the important “strategic relationship” it has with Saudi Arabia, as he highlighted how the US and Iran shared “no interests and no values.”

Arab News

Political event canceled after vandals scrawl ‘Kill all Jews’ inside Brooklyn synagogue

November 2, 2018

A political event hosted by “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer at a historic Brooklyn synagogue was cancelled Thursday when a vandal scrawled “Kill all Jews” inside.

By Alex Taylor and Tamar Lapin
New York Post

The NYPD said “anti-Semitic messages” were discovered on the stairwell of Union Temple in Brooklyn Heights at around 8 p.m. Thursday.

At about 8:30, Glazer came out of the venue to tell the crowds that the 8 p.m. event, where she was scheduled to interview journalist Amy Goodman and New York state senate candidates Andrew Gounardes and Jim Gaughran was cancelled because of the graffiti.

“She didn’t feel comfortable ushering 200 people into the enclosed space; potential sitting ducks,” an attendee named Kathryn Gonzalez posted on Facebook.

A custodian told The Post hateful slurs were found on the second and fifth floor and that the anti-Semitic vandal had scrawled “Kill all Jews” on a door.

“There was a lot of anxiety,” Gonzalez told The Post. “Especially given last weekend’s events and the upcoming election, the tension and fear feels heightened.”

The event was part of Glazer’s The Generator Series, where she interviews activists and politicians “to see how they serve us — the people,” according to the description.

“I hope it doesn’t have a chilling effect on people going to vote,” Gounardes told The Post. “We can’t afford to stand in the silence or be scared or intimated.”

“This is not the New York City that any of us want to be living in.”

The anti-Semitic graffiti comes just a day after vandals drew a swastika and scrawled a racial epithet on a Brooklyn Heights brownstone and less than a week after a mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where the gunman allegedly yelled “All Jews must die!

Police were investing the crime and had no arrests as of Thursday night.


The Internet Will Be the Death of Us

October 31, 2018

Related image

It casts rogue grievances as legitimate obsessions and gives prejudices the shimmer of ideals.

Nora Ephron once wrote a brilliant essay about the trajectory of her and many other people’s infatuations with email, from the thrill of discovering this speedy new way of keeping in touch to the hell of not being able to turn it off.

I’ve come to feel that way about the whole of the internet.

What a glittering dream of expanded knowledge and enhanced connection it was at the start. What a nightmare of manipulated biases and metastasized hate it has turned into.

Before he allegedly began mailing pipe bombs to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others, Cesar Sayoc found encouragement online — maybe not in the form of explosives instructions, but in the sense that he could scream his resentments in a theater that did the opposite of repudiating them. It echoed them back. It validated and cultivated them. It took something dark and colored it darker still.

“By the time he was arrested in Florida on Friday,” The Times reported, “Sayoc appeared to fit the all-too-familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor.”

By Frank Bruni
The New York Times

Robert Bowers, accused of murdering 11 Jewish Americans in Pittsburgh the morning after Sayoc’s arrest, stoked his madness and nurtured his bloody fantasies in that same online vortex. While Sayoc carved out ugly niches on Facebook and Twitter, Bowers found even safer harbor for his racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic passions on Gab, a two-year-old social network that has served as a nursery for white nationalists. There they congregated, commiserated and riled up one another with an unfiltered efficiency that simply doesn’t exist offline.

It was on the internet, with its privacy and anonymity, that Dylann Roof researched white supremacy and formulated his evil conviction that violence was necessary. He then went into a historic church in Charleston, S.C., and fatally shot nine African-American parishioners in June 2015.

It was on the internet — on Facebook, to be exact — that Alek Minassian posted a pledge of allegiance to the “incel rebellion,” which refers to the resentments of “involuntarily celibate” men who can’t interest the women around them in sex. He then used a van to mow down and kill 10 people in Toronto in April.

Enclaves of the internet warped the worldviews of all of these men, convincing them of the primacy and purity of their rage. Most of us had never heard the term “incel” before the Toronto massacre. But it was the indelible centerpiece of Minassian’s life.

Most of us were unfamiliar with HIAS, the shorthand for a Jewish group that resettles refugees. But those initials dominated Bowers’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. And that reflects the internet’s power to cast rogue grievances as legitimate obsessions and give prejudices the shimmer of ideals.

Technology has always been a coin with two sides: potential and peril. That’s what Mary Shelley explored in “Frankenstein,” which is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, and it has been the main theme of science fiction ever since.

The internet is the technology paradox writ more monstrous than ever. It’s a nonpareil tool for learning, roving and constructive community-building. But it’s unrivaled, too, in the spread of lies, narrowing of interests and erosion of common cause. It’s a glorious buffet, but it pushes individual users toward only the red meat or just the kale. We’re ridiculously overfed and ruinously undernourished.

It creates terrorists. But well shy of that, it sows enmity by jumbling together information and misinformation to a point where there’s no discerning the real from the Russian.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from a Silicon Valley giant whose wares depend on our internet addiction. Speaking at a conference in Brussels, Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, warned, “Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies.”

“Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false,” he added.

This was a week ago — before Sayoc’s arrest, before Bowers’s rampage, before Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, won Brazil’s presidential election. As The Times reported, pro-Bolsonaro forces apparently tried to hurt his opponents and help him by flooding WhatsApp, the messaging application owned by Facebook, “with a deluge of political content that gave wrong information on voting locations and times.”

That same Times article noted that a search for the word “Jews” on the photo-sharing site Instagram on Monday led to 11,696 posts with the hashtag “#jewsdid911,” insanely blaming them for the attacks that brought down the World Trade Center, along with similarly grotesque images and videos that demonized Jews. Anti-Semitism may be ancient, but this delivery system for it is entirely modern.

And utterly terrifying. I don’t know exactly how we square free speech and free expression — which are paramount — with a better policing of the internet, but I’m certain that we need to approach that challenge with more urgency than we have mustered so far. Democracy is at stake. So are lives.

I invite you to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter. You can follow me on Twitter (@FrankBruni).

Frank Bruni has been with The Times since 1995 and held a variety of jobs — including White House reporter, Rome bureau chief and chief restaurant critic — before becoming a columnist in 2011. He is the author of three best-selling books.  @FrankBruni  Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A29 of the New York edition with the headline: The Internet Will Be the Death of Us

Neuroscience may help explain a current lack of social and emotional skills, impulse driven decision making and mob-like behavior in society…

Police officers wearing A.I.-powered smart glasses with facial recognition in Luoyang, China. Credit Reuters

No automatic alt text available.

Social media is making children regress to mentality of three-year-olds, says top brain scientist

We need to face these dead

October 30, 2018

President Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 9. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)


October 29 at 4:08 PM

Americans like to think of the military defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of death camps as their answer to the most murderous outbreak of anti-Semitism in history. It has become part of our national lore: American soldiers escorting German locals to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp, forcing them to see the faces of those killed with their complicity.

Americans predictably forget that their initial response to attacks on Jews in Germany during the 1930s was utterly shameful. Horrific persecution was broadly reported in American media. Yet our country passed up opportunity after opportunity to accept Jewish refugees, including children. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it was “not a governmental affair.” Cultural leaders such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh normalized anti-Semitic ideas and language.

Yet after the war, no one ever forced Americans to walk past the faces of those who needlessly died with their complicity.

“Away from the battlefield,” wrote Eli Wiesel, “the judgment of history will be harsh. . . . How many victims, Jews and non-Jews, could have been saved had we changed our immigration laws, opened our gates more widely, protested more forcefully. We did not. Why not?”

It is not my purpose to indict the dead. It is only to point out how close to the cultural surface prejudice has been and remains. It is not foreign to human nature; it is a disturbing facet of that nature. Religious people might say that human beings are fallen — inherently prone to selfishness and sin. Science reveals Homo sapiens as creatures programmed to serve our family and tribe, predisposed to dehumanize out-groups and prone to follow the crowd even when we know it is wrong.

The knowledge that men and women can be led to commit, enable and ignore great evil should underlie any realistic approach to governing. Certainly any conservative approach to governing. “Civilization is hideously fragile,” said C.P. Snow. “. . . There’s not much between us and the horrors underneath. Just about a coat of varnish.”


These are the ultimate stakes of the political enterprise. I am talking about something in a different category from tax cuts and regulatory reform. Do political figures recognize the fragility of decency and humanity and guard them from fracture? Or do they shatter them for their own purposes by demonizing some group or faith? The cascade of consequences following this kind of act is more rapid than it has ever been before, due to the speed and amplification of modern technology. Many find permission for their worst instincts and corroboration for pernicious conspiracy theories. Some advocating more overt hatred emerge from under their digital rocks and are granted new visibility. A few of the unstable are given a cause that carries them into violence.

At the same time, and not coincidentally, the big business of partisanship — cable networks and hosts, radio personalities, talking heads, and conspiratorial websites — manage to profit from the escalation of contempt. They are the culture-war profiteers.

We see this dynamic at work when Hispanics are routinely reduced to caricatures of gang bangers and rapists, intent on invading the country (with Democratic support); when refugees are identified as a dangerous fifth column, motivated by an inherently violent faith; when young African American men are regularly accused of disloyalty for acts of protest; and, yes, when politicians and commentators talk about “globalists” and the “[George] Soros-occupied State Department” and are clearly going after the Jews.

Much of this can be traced to white supremacy, or its close cousin, white grievance. But why anti-Semitism? Why did the Charlottesville alt-right protesters defend Confederate monuments by chanting, “Jews will not replace us”? I am not sure. Anti-Semitism seems to have deep theological roots, in the distortion of Christianity as a blessing for hatred. It bubbles up on the right and left, among European right-wingers and academic “anti-Zionists,” from Republican legislators, from followers of Louis Farrakhan and from the leader of the British Labour Party. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in America in 2017 over 2016. Can there be any other reason for this spike than the general legitimation of dehumanization in American politics?

This is what makes Republicans who are complicit — those who are bystanders and enablers — so difficult to understand or forgive. Many regard themselves as opponents of prejudice and especially as philo-Semites. But how can they accept political leadership that expands the acceptable range of hatred? How can they condemn the fire in our public life when they follow a political pyromaniac? Or perhaps they assume that history will again look the other way.

Outrage as Pence brings out Messianic ‘rabbi’ to pray for synagogue victims

October 30, 2018

Loren Jacobs invokes ‘Jesus the Messiah’ in his prayer; Pence says he did not know the cleric, who was invited to event by Jewish GOP candidate Lena Epstein

Vice President Mike Pence, right, prays with 'Rabbi' Loren Jacobs, of Bloomfield Hills' Congregation Shema Yisrael, for the victims and families of those killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, at a rally for Republicans in Oakland County, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, at the Oakland County Airport in Waterford, Mich. (Tanya Moutzalias/Ann Arbor via AP)

Vice President Mike Pence, right, prays with ‘Rabbi’ Loren Jacobs, of Bloomfield Hills’ Congregation Shema Yisrael, for the victims and families of those killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, at a rally for Republicans in Oakland County, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, at the Oakland County Airport in Waterford, Mich. (Tanya Moutzalias/Ann Arbor via AP)

US Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on Monday when the ‘rabbi’ he invited onto the stage to say a prayer for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre turned out to be a Messianic Christian, who invoked “Jesus the Messiah” at the event.

However, a spokesperson for Pence later said he did not know Rabbi Loren Jacobs of the Messianic congregation Shema Yisrael, when he called him onto the stage to offer a prayer for the victims during a Michigan campaign stop.

“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and Father of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and Father too,” Jacobs, wearing a tallit, intoned, causing much consternation, two days after a gunman who said all Jews should be killed shot dead 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the worst attack on Jews in US history.

“Our nation is so divided right now,” said Jacobs, who was ordained at an evangelical seminary and who uses the title “rabbi”. “The hate-inspired shooting in the synagogue in Pittsburgh is the latest evidence of this. Lord, please work so that instead of division in our nation there is unity and peace.”

Messianic Judaism, commonly known as Jews for Jesus, combines Jewish traditions with the idea that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah.  Some Messianic Jews want the movement to be accepted as a sect of Judaism, but mainstream Jewish movements emphatically reject this, saying the ideology is a contradiction.

Rafael Shimunov 🔥


In response to antisemitic white nationalist attack, Vice President Mike Pence opens campaign event with a Christian Rabbi.

Noah Shachtman


Here’s a little hint: If you think Jesus is the Messiah, you’re not Jewish. You’re part of that *other*, perfectly fine faith. But Jewish? No.

Howard Mortman@HowardMortman

Rabbi Loren Jacobs of Messianic synagogue Shema Yisrael offers prayer before VP Pence speaks at Michigan campaign event: “God of Abraham … God and Father of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah…hate inspired shooting in synagogue in Pittsburgh” 

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

His prayer caused outrage, with many taking to social media to express their anger that the vice president couldn’t find a Jewish rabbi to lead a prayer for those killed in a synagogue.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg


Dear Pence, please give up the pretense of Jewish presence. You are a Christian supremacist. We know that, you know that.

Also we will defeat you.

But in the meantime, just stop pretending and appropriating my people.

Chris Savage@Eclectablog

VP Pence apparently couldn’t find an actual rabbi. Instead he got a Christian leader of a group of Christians who call themselves “Messianic Jews”. Yeshua = Jesus. Actual Jews paying attention to this are outraged at this decision, btw. 

A Pence aide told The Associated Press that Jacobs was invited to pray at the event in suburban Detroit’s Waterford Township by GOP congressional candidate Lena Epstein and said Pence did not know who he was when he invited Jacobs back onstage to offer another a prayer for the victims, their families and the nation.

As Pence stood next to him, Jacobs ended his prayer by saying, “in the name of Jesus.”

The aide was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He was not invited by the VP’s office to speak on behalf of the Jewish community,” the aide said.

Talia B Lavin


this gentleman also prayed for the success of republican candidates by name, but did not mention the names of those slain in pittsburgh. needless to say, this weird, blasphemous burlesque of judaism is beyond insulting to those murdered for their faith

Talia B Lavin


the uh, rabbi mike pence invited to speak before his campaign event is a christian missionary

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Epstein, who touted her own Jewish heritage, said she invited the rabbi’s prayer “because we must unite as a nation — while embracing our religious differences — in the aftermath of Pennsylvania.” She said anyone attacking her or Pence over the prayer is “guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance.”

Lena Epstein


US House candidate, MI-11

Statement on Jewish Faith and Religious Tolerance:

“I am proud of my faith and look forward to serving as the only Jewish Republican woman in Congress,” she said.

Detroit-area Rabbi Jason Miller said on Facebook that there are at least 60 rabbis on a directory of Michigan rabbis and “yet the only rabbi they could find to offer a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims in Pittsburgh at the Mike Pence rally was a local Jews for Jesus rabbi? That’s pathetic!”

Lena Epstein, Republican candidate for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, appears during a rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James in Pontiac, Mich., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Jordan Acker, a Jewish lawyer who is running for the University of Michigan Board of Regents as a Democrat, criticized Epstein on Twitter. He said she was “deeply insensitive for bringing a group on stage whose entire mission is to convert Jews,” days after the worst instance of anti-Semitic violence in American history.

Epstein is running against Democrat Haley Stevens for a House seat opening with the retirement of Republican Rep. Dave Trott.