Posts Tagged ‘anti-Semitism’

Italy’s Far-right Leader Salvini: ‘I Don’t Have to Justify Myself Every Time I Go to Israel’

December 11, 2018

Prior to visit, Salvini tells Foreign Press Association that ‘the growing anti-Semitism goes together with Islamic extremism, to which no one is paying attention’

Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, at a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Italy, December 10, 2018

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a leader of country’s far-right, is arriving Tuesday in Israel for a two-day visit.

In a conversation with the Foreign Press Association on Monday, Salvini said, “The growing anti-Semitism goes together with Islamic extremism, to which no one is paying attention.” Salvini also addressed the criticism of his visit to Israel, saying, “I don’t have to justify myself every time I go to Israel.”

Salvini is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon, when he will meet with Latin Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.

In the evening he will attend a “graffiti and nightlife” tour of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market. On Wednesday morning he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, and fly back to Italy in the late afternoon.

Salvini will not be meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, with the president’s bureau stating his “tight schedule” as the reason.

In a recent interviewwith CNN, the president said that the neo-fascist movement should not be accepted in Israel. “You can’t say – we admire the State of Israel and want ties with it, but we’re neo-fascists,” Rivlin said.

Salvini is the leader of the far-right Northern League party, and is known especially for his strong resistance to the intake of migrants and asylum seekers in his country.

In the past, his party mostly represented separatists from northern Italy, but under his leadership the Northern League became more popular at a national level, partly due to his attacks on foreigners.

The party became the second-largest faction in the Italian parliament after the recent elections, and Salvini entered his position in June when the Italian government was sworn in.

While he holds the position of interior minister, Salvini’s dominance casts a heavy shadow over Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; some even claim that Salvini is the one dictating the country’s agenda.

Salvini also stirred unrest when he called for a registry of all the nomadic Roma people living in Italy.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper this past month, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Fico said Italy was weighing the possibility of opening a cultural mission in Jerusalem, as the Czech Republic has done.

Salvini’s visit comes on the heels of multiple meetings Netanyahu has held with leaders who are associated with the far right across the world or politicians who have joined far-right parties.

Recently, Czech President Milos Zeman visited Israel and addressed his promise to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem – a move his government opposes and that is not under his authority to decide on.

In September, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is accused of violating human rights in his country, also paid a visit to Israel.

In July, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who leads a counter-democratic policy, came to the Holy Land. A month earlier, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is spearheading efforts to end the Israeli boycott on far-right ministers in his government, also visited Israel.

Netanyahu recently declared that he would participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who is also perceived to be on the far right side of the political map.


They survived the Holocaust. Must they go back into hiding?

December 10, 2018

They survived the Europe of the Holocaust. But a recent rise in anti-Semitic acts in the United States has rekindled old fears: Should they again go into hiding, or should they instead reach out to share their experiences?

Nearly all of them were children or adolescents in the early 1940s. They remember having their youth stolen from them — by fear, by desperate flight, by separation from relatives, and in some cases by the Nazi death camps.

Amid a rise in reported anti-Semitic acts in the US, neo-Nazis in the state of Georgia burned a swastika on April 21, 2018

If there was one country where they felt they were safe, it was the United States, where many of them have now lived for decades.

They have, to be sure, heard the occasional anti-Semitic slight or perhaps seen a swastika daubed on a wall, but still they felt safe — an all-important word for them.

Now, however, these survivors — several of whom came together in the Oheb Shalom synagogue in an affluent New Jersey suburb to celebrate Hanukkah and to mark International Holocaust Survivors Night — are deeply worried: Anti-Semitic acts in the US soared last year by 37 percent, according to FBI statistics.

The October 27 slaughter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a white nationalist has been charged with gunning down 11 mostly elderly Jews as they worshiped, greatly heightened those fears.

A woman stands at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27

“A crazy man listened to Trump,” said David Lefkovic, 89, referring to the Pittsburgh shooter.

As an adolescent in southwestern France during World War II, he was saved only by his blond hair from being snatched up in a round-up of Jews.

Trump “calls anybody that he doesn’t like ‘weak’ — that’s exactly Nazi language,” said Adela Dubovy, who, as a 6-year-old, survived the notorious Theresienstadt concentration camp. “You’re weak, you’re to be destroyed.”

– ‘It can happen again’ –

“Before, they were hiding,” Lefkovic said of America’s anti-Semites.

“It’s now out in the open that it’s okay to pick on the Jews all over again,” said Hanna Keselman, who was born in Germany in 1930 and spent much of the war in France and Italy.

The anti-Semites “are very strong, even in colleges,” said Roman Kent, who survived life in camps including Auschwitz. “They should have people that are more intelligent.”

Roman Kent, who survived life in several Nazi concentration camps, regrets that more young Jews are not stepping forward to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten

In recent weeks, anti-Semitic acts have taken place on the campuses of some of America’s most prestigious universities, including Columbia and Cornell in New York state and Duke in North Carolina.

Of the Pittsburgh massacre, said Kent, who took part in negotiations with Germany over compensation to be paid to Jews, “I’m afraid that it can happen again, and it will happen again.”

– ‘I don’t want to live that way’-

Adela Dubovy said she has four grandchildren at various universities.

She said she lives in a retirement home — a “bubble” that insulates her to some extent. But she admits to being “scared.”

“Now I don’t wear my Star of David. I tell my grandkids: Don’t wear your kippah (yarmulke) in the street — you don’t want to be attacked.”

“I understand” the urge to be discreet, said Keselman, “but I would not tell my grandchildren that.”

“I don’t want to live that way anymore… I did it. Enough of that.”

When she traveled back to Italy, where her father was arrested and then killed, “I purposely wore a Jewish Star of David. I felt, ‘This is me back, and I feel safe here.'”

Today, said the soft-spoken 88-year-old, “I want to live free and open with everyone.”

Keselman, a painter, is not fond of public speaking but she forces herself to meet with young people to keep alive the haunting memories that some people feel will be lost forever when the final survivors die.

Roman Kent says he regrets that too few members of younger Jewish generations have picked up the torch.

“If they would, then there would not be 60 or 70 percent that don’t know the word Holocaust,” he said.

A study published in April by the Claims Conference, the group behind the International Holocaust Survivors Night, found that 49 percent of America’s young “millennial” generation could not name a single concentration camp.

“I realize that I do make an impact on people who are not Jewish, because they come back and tell me they never realized a lot of things that were going on” during the war, said Keselman.

“The problem,” she added, “is that the people who want to hear the stories are not the people who would be behaving as anti-Semites.”


Anti-Semitism pushes 40% of European Jews to consider leaving — poll

December 10, 2018

Fears over anti-Semitism surge amid increasing attacks on Jewish communities in their home countries The poll by the EU agency for fundamental rights found that 28 per cent of European Jews experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past 12 months © EPA Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT

By Tobias Buck in Berlin 50 MINUTES AGO Print this page

Close to 40 per cent of European Jews have considered leaving their home countries over the past five years because of rising anti-Semitism, according to a poll released on Monday. The survey, which was conducted by the EU agency for fundamental rights (FRA), highlights growing concern among Jewish communities in Europe, with almost 90 per cent of respondents saying that anti-Semitism has increased since 2013.

The Jewish community in France — which has suffered a number of high-profile deadly attacks in recent years — appears to have been especially shaken: almost 80 per cent of French Jews told pollsters that anti-Semitism in the country had “increased a lot”, the highest proportion in Europe. But there was also a marked deterioration in Germany, where 44 per cent of Jews said they had thought about emigrating, up from 25 per cent five years ago.  “Decades after the Holocaust, shocking and mounting levels of anti-Semitism continue to plague the EU,”

Michael O’Flaherty, the director of the FRA, said in a statement. “Member states must take note and step up their efforts to prevent and combat anti-Semitism.

 A man raises his arm in a Heil Hitler salute towards heckling leftists at a right-wing protest  in Chemnitz.

Jewish people have the right to live freely, without hate and without fear for their safety.”  According to the FRA poll, however, that ideal is far from the reality of Jewish life in Europe today. It finds that 28 per cent of European Jews experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past 12 months, including offensive and threatening comments, offensive gestures or offensive comments on social media. That number was especially high in Germany, where 41 per cent of respondents said they had suffered anti-Semitic harassment over the past year.

“The survey findings suggest that anti-Semitism pervades the public sphere, reproducing and ingraining stereotypes about Jews,” the FRA notes in the report. The agency also points out that “people face so much anti-Semitic abuse that some of the incidents they experience appear trivial to them . . . respondents report very few experienced incidents of anti-Semitism to the police or other institution[s]”.

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Asked about the perpetrators of the most anti-Semitic incidents, 31 per cent of respondents said they were not able to identify the assailant. Thirty per cent said the perpetrator was “someone with an extremist Muslim view”, followed by 21 per cent who said the attacker had been “someone with a leftwing political view”.

Concern over the rise of hatred against Jews prompted the German government earlier this year to appoint a special commissioner tasked with combating anti-Semitism. Berlin also announced plans to establish a national database for anti-Semitic incidents.  The FRA survey covers 12 European countries that together are home to 96 per cent of the Jewish population in the EU.

More than 16,000 Jews took part in the poll between May and June 2018.

See also:

‘The word Jew was not a common insult when I went to school…it is now.’

‘Europe is finished,’ leading lawyer says as he leaves UK for Israel

December 6, 2018

‘It’s time to wander again,’ Mark Lewis tells fellow Jews facing rising anti-Semitism in Britain and across Europe

Mark Lewis (L) and his partner Mandy Blumenthal in an interview with the BBC. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Mark Lewis (L) and his partner Mandy Blumenthal in an interview with the BBC. (Screen capture: YouTube)

A top British lawyer and his partner immigrated to Israel this week, citing rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

“Europe in my view is finished. Every day you see people being attacked in one way or another across Europe,” Mark Lewis told Israel’s Channel 10 news, which accompanied his arrival, together with partner Mandy Blumenthal, at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.

“You see people murdered in museums in Belgium, people murdered in schools in France, people attacked in England. There is only one place for Jewish people to go,” Lewis added.

Lewis, 54, one of the UK’s leading libel lawyers, said he has been increasingly subjected to hate speech and threats for being Jewish, including being subjected to regular abuse and death threats online.

The decision to leave Britain did not come easily, the couple has said, but they feel it was inevitable. “We’re a wandering people, and it’s time to wander again. People just don’t want to see it,” Lewis said of his fellow British Jews.

Mark Lewis, right, and Mandy Blumenthal arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, December 5, 2018. (Channel 10 screen capture)

“We’ve accelerated our decision of moving to go to Israel because of anti-Semitism being so institutional and accepted in mainstream life,” Blumenthal charged.

“So many people have these ideas about Jews being responsible for every disaster that’s ever happened in the world.”

Lewis and Blumenthal first publicized their intention to leave for Israel in an interview with the BBC in August. They said they knew other people who are considering leaving the country because of anti-Semitism.

In the interview, the couple also blamed the leadership of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn for creating an atmosphere that allows anti-Semitic feelings to bubble up, and largely dismissed Corbyn’s assertion that anti-Semitism is not tolerated in the party.

“Jeremy Corbyn moved the rock, and the anti-Semites crawled out from underneath the rock. They’re not going back,” said Lewis.

“There’s been a total climate change. It’s become acceptable to be anti-Semitic. It’s brought out people’s feelings to the surface,” Blumenthal said.

She said though Corbyn and Labour are not solely responsible for the recent anti-Semitism, they have a “very loud part” in its rise.

“It’s not just Jeremy Corbyn and it’s not all of the Labour party. But it’s a very, very loud part of it that’s actually enabled this anti-Semitism to foster here in the UK and go throughout society,” she said.

Lewis said while anti-Semitism was a fringe phenomenon in the past, it is has become more prominent due to social media.

“Social media has caused so much harm,” he said. “Fifteen years ago there was still anti-Semitism but it was an obscure thing. Fifteen years ago somebody painted a swastika on my garage door in Manchester, that was a message. But it was a one-off, it was something you could almost laugh off. Now with the effect of social media, it’s almost every day.”

Lewis, who in an interview with The Times of Israel last year said he likes to take on anti-Semitic trolls on social media, said he has also faced anti-Semitism when trying to raise the issue.

“If you complain about anti-Semitism, the most anti-Semitic thing is said back to you: You’re making it up, it’s all a smear, you haven’t even got the right to complain,” he said.

He said he was bombarded with messages of hate from “people who claim to represent [grassroots Corbyn backing group] Momentum, who claim to represent the Labour Party.”

Lawyer Mark Lewis arrives at a media ethics inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Thursday, November 24, 2011. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Explaining the couple’s decision to move to Israel, Lewis said “there is only so much you can take.”

“The online abuse might continue, the Israelis might not like me because I am too left, might not like me because they think I am too right, whatever their view. But they are not going to dislike me because I am Jewish. And there is only so much you can take – when you are getting threats to kill you.”

“When you are getting threats from people that they want you to be ill, etc. It’s a drip drip effect,” said Lewis, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. “And where do you say ‘actually, enough is enough.’”

In response to the couple’s interview, a Labour spokesperson said Corbyn is a “militant opponent” of anti-Semitism and committed to uprooting it from the party.

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Tolpuddle, England, on July 22, 2018. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

Blumenthal, however, said she did not believe Corbyn’s expressed commitment to addressing Labour’s anti-Semitism problems.

“Words are cheap. I honestly believe that when I hear Jeremy Corbyn’s words, they’re cheap, they’re excuses, they’re not actually expressing his true feelings. I don’t believe him,” she said.

In August, Corbyn faced renewed criticism after the Daily Mail newspaper published photos of him holding a wreath during a 2014 ceremony at a Tunisian cemetery. It appeared from the snapshots that Corbyn was standing near the graves of Palestinian terrorists involved in the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The scandal is only the latest round in a long-running crisis for the Labour Party, with a constant stream of members and prominent officials being forced out or chastised for making anti-Semitic and virulent anti-Israel comments, and Corbyn himself criticized for tolerating and/or being part of the problem.

The fracas has seen excoriation from rabbis, including Britain’s chief rabbi, as well as from some of Labour’s own MPs, charging that the party and its leader seem unable or unwilling to decisively excise anti-Semitic members and sentiments from Labour’s ranks.


CNN fires Marc Lamont Hill following controversial Israel comments

November 30, 2018

“Comments viewed by some as advocating for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

CNN fired liberal pundit Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday, following controversial statements he made about Israel at the United Nations.

“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a network spokesperson said in an email.

Speaking at a pro-Palestine meeting at the U.N. on Wednesday, Hill called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

The statement — which is sometimes said by the militant group Hamas and refers to extending Palestine’s borders from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea — is viewed by some as advocating for the destruction of the Jewish state.

“Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel,” Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president for international affairs, told the Jewish Journal.

Hill also works as a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. The school stood by him on Thursday, saying in a statement: “Marc Lamont Hill does not represent Temple University and his views are his own. However, we acknowledge that he has a constitutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.”

Hill did not immediately return request for comment, but defended himself on Twitter.

“My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza,” Hill wrote on Thursday.

“I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things,” he added in another tweet.


Swastikas graffitied in office of Columbia Jewish professor

November 29, 2018

NYPD open probe into apparent hate crime targeting Elizabeth Midlarsky, whose work space was similarly targeted in 2007

Columbia University. (CC-BY-SA InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr)

Columbia University. (CC-BY-SA InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr)

A Jewish professor at Columbia University in New York arrived at her office Wednesday to find two red swastikas, along with the derogatory term “Yid,” spray-painted on the walls.

The NYPD opened an investigation into the apparent hate crime targeting Elizabeth Midlarsky, 77, who has served as a professor at the Columbia Teachers College for nearly three decades.

“I opened the outer door and almost passed out,” she told CNN. “I was so shaky, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.”

The professor, who is not in good health, said she provided police with a statement before being taken home.

New York Daily News


“I walked in the door of my office and found myself staring at a swastika and was absolutely shocked,” A Jewish professor and Holocaust scholar at Columbia Teacher’s College said. 

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The president of the Teachers College, Thomas Bailey, released a statement “unequivocally” condemning the apparent hate crime. “We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community.”

Midlarsky told CNN that it was not the first time she had been targeted. In 2007, she began publishing research on the Holocaust, and demonstrated against then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the university. The professor subsequently began receiving hate mail. The harassment escalated to the painting of a swastika on her office door.

“I could see why someone was really angry, because I had taken a lot of public positions,” she told the New York Daily News.

But Midlarsky admitted to being more surprised by Wednesday’s incident.

“I haven’t done anything, said anything,” she told CNN, adding that she sees the apparent hate crime as “connected to a trend and upsurge in anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in recent years.”

“I feel very, very vulnerable,” she said.


Erdogan takes aim at Soros over jailed Turkish philanthropist

November 21, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accused George Soros of aiding a jailed Turkish philanthropist facing hugely controversial charges of seeking otherthrow the government, describing the Hungary-born American billionaire as a “famous Hungarian Jew”.

Erdogan suggested Soros had backed the Turkish financier and philanthropist Osman Kavala who organised civil society events and has been in prison for the last year awaiting trial.

In a speech to local officials, Erdogan accused Kavala of financing the 2013 protests over the redevelopment of Gezi Park in Istanbul which at the time marked one of the biggest challenges to his rule.

© AFP/File | Turkish financier and philanthropist Osman Kavala who organised civil society events and has been in prison for the last year awaiting trial

“There is a person who financed the terrorists in the Gezi events. Now he is behind bars,” said Erdogan, referring to Kavala without naming him.

“And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew Soros. This person sends people across the world to divide and tear up nations and uses the large amount of money he possesses to this effect.”

He described Kavala as the “representative in Turkey” of Soros and accused Kavala of “using his means to support those trying to tear up this country”

Erdogan’s verbal assault against Soros echoed the language of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government has implemented a “Stop Soros” package targeting the 88-year-old’s work in his country of birth using imagery that Jewish groups have said could stoke anti-Semitism.

Soros, who funds philanthropic projects across the world, has become a favorite target of far-right extremists in several countries.

Controversy over the Kavala case has intensified in the last week after 14 Turkish academics and activists were detained on Friday over links to the imprisoned philanthropist.

Those arrests were greeted with strong protests by the United States, European Union and the Turkish opposition. All the suspects were released bar Yigit Aksakoglu, a staff member of Istanbul’s private Bilgi University who was remanded in custody.

Kavala’s supporters say his charges of seeking to overthrow the government are absurd and that he had worked tirelessly to build bridges in society, in particular with Armenians.

They also say it is a disgrace he has yet to receive an indictment over a year after his arrest on October 18, 2017.

Erdogan also lashed out at Tuesday’s decision of the European Court of Human Rights to urge the release of pro-Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas who has been held for two years on terror charges.

“Make any decision you like in your glass palaces, hold any vote you like. We have never made concessions on our state as democracy governed by rule of law,” said Erdogan, accusing Demirtas of inciting October 2014 protests where dozens of mainly Kurdish protesters died.


Poland: Don’t believe the media, extremism is under control

November 18, 2018

On Nov. 11, Poles across the world and within Poland celebrated our National Independence Day. This year’s celebrations were special, as they marked 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence.

The key event was the Warsaw march of hundreds of thousands of Poles who honored this great national holiday with due dignity. The celebrations have clearly shown how the Poles love their homeland.

Unfortunately, however, many of the world’s media outlets did what they had done in the past: They published a distorted picture giving the impression that the march was all about a few far-right groups that participated. This is not what happened in Warsaw that day.

Image result for Poland's Independence Day, photos

Independence March in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

During the celebrations of the National Independence Day in Warsaw, a couple of incidents were reported. All of them are being investigated by the police. As the police commander has told the press, police officers reported six incidents: broken wing mirrors of a few cars parked along the march’s route, a damaged facade of a small shop, and one beating (the police have detained the perpetrators). Also, a European Union flag was burned, and a number of participants used pyrotechnics while in the crowd. The police are looking for those responsible for these incidents. Their pictures have been posted online, and some of them have already been found and held liable for their actions.

Contrary to what some media outlets have suggested, the march’s participants did not use slogans or messages that breached the law. This was ensured by the experts commissioned by the police to monitor slogans and banners appearing in the crowds. Slogans of radical nature, if any, were incidental occurrences.

Given that approximately 250,000 people took part in the march and that it was the biggest mass event in Warsaw in years, the scale of incidents was really marginal. These unfortunate mishaps should not have overshadowed what was a joyful and celebratory gathering.

The march in Warsaw compared favorably to official mass events celebrated in other European countries. That’s because Poland’s ruling party since 2015 takes the country’s internal security more seriously than its predecessor. In the past, independence day marches became urban battles, with the authorities unable (or even reluctant) to take preventive measures.

This year’s National Independence Day was first and foremost a great holiday for all of the Poles and their great success. The competent services, both special and uniformed, also contributed to this success with superb planning that minimized disorder.

The Internal Security Agency (ABW) and other special services supervised by the minister Mariusz Kaminski identified individuals whose participation in the march could have posed a threat to public order. The ABW, working hand in hand with the police, detained approximately 100 people with ties to radical nationalist groups. These individuals are linked to groups that had planned to come to Warsaw with the aim of disrupting the march.

The officers of the services also conducted searches in the detainees’ places of residence and found materials promoting totalitarian rule. Moreover, the ABW prepared for Independence Day by drafting a list of 400 extremists from different European countries who could have tried to come to Poland to disrupt festivities. As a result of cooperation between the ABW and Polish Border Guard, most of the listed individuals were stopped at the border. Faced with a firm stance of Polish institutions, some of them decided not to come to Poland at all.

The extent of the state services’ activities has shown that in Poland, there is zero tolerance for violent, radical groups that spread totalitarian propaganda. Despite receiving broad media coverage, these groups are marginal in Poland and are dealt with by authorities in a determined manner.

Other European countries face a much bigger problem with such groups than Poland does. According to statistical data, the Polish services had to expend more effort to secure the celebrations from the arrival of European extremists than to stop homegrown threats. It is not Poland that is troubled by extremist groups driven by hate and violence, either the neo-Nazi underground circles or the far-left ones.

Yes, both are present in Poland, but their presence is only marginal, far less acute than in Western Europe. Just look at the latest report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights on anti-Semitism. The document finds that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Poland has dropped significantly for a second year in a row. Germany and France now have more anti-Semitic incidents than Poland.

Yet if you went by the media coverage, you might get the false impression that Poland is a place that is being radicalized under the state’s umbrella. It is not so. Such accusations do not withstand the official data or the Polish government’s strict and effective policy against violent radicalism.

The National Independence Day in Poland was celebrated in a very solemn and glamorous manner. For Poles, Nov. 11 is the most important state holiday. And this year, the holiday festivities were particularly beautiful and safe.

Sadly, some people used it as yet another opportunity to attack Polish society and the authorities, especially media outlets that do not wish Poland well and suffer a disconnect from reality.

Stanislaw Zaryn is a spokesperson for the Polish Minister-Special Services Coordinator.

Facebook vied to conceal Russia meddling: NYT

November 15, 2018

Facebook misled the public about its knowledge of Russian hackers’ use of the powerful platform to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, a New York Times investigation reported Thursday.

It also said Facebook has at times smeared critics as anti-Semitic or tried to link activists to billionaire investor George Soros, and tried to shift public anger away toward rival tech companies.

In a lengthy investigative piece that is likely to trigger political repercussions in Washington, the Times argued that Facebook’s way of dealing with crisis was to “delay, deny and deflect.”

It said its article was based on interviews with more than 50 people, including current and ex-Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members.

Image result for Zuckerberg and Sandberg, photos
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg, were both so bent on growing the company that they “ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view,” the report said.

On Russia, Zuckerberg declared in the fall of 2016 that it was “crazy” to think Facebook had been used to help Donald Trump win the US presidency, but the report said in-house experts knew this not to be the case.

In fact, the Times said, for over a year Facebook had amassed evidence of Russian activity through an investigation led by its former security chief, Alex Stamos.

This involved Russians looking at the Facebook accounts of people involved in US presidential election campaigns and, later, Russian-controlled accounts offering reporters information from hacked emails from senior Democratic Party officials.

But it was only belatedly that the company’s board was informed of the full extent of the meddling, the Times said.

– Going on the attack –

When criticism of its belated Russia admission grew, Facebook mounted a lobbying campaign led by Sandberg.

The company used a PR firm to push negative stories about its political critics and make rival companies like Google and Apple look bad, the Times said.

In July of this year, as a Facebook executive testified before a congressional committee, anti-Facebook demonstrators barged into the room and held up a sign depicting Zuckerberg and Sandberg — who are both Jewish — as the twin heads of an octopus with its tentacles around the world.

Facebook responded by lobbying a Jewish civil rights group — the Anti-Defamation League — to publicly label that criticism as anti-Semitic, the Times said.

Facebook was also said to have employed a Republican firm specializing in opposition research to discredit activists, partly by linking them to the liberal Soros, who has become a favoured target of Trump supporters and far-right conspiracy groups.

Before and since this month’s midterm elections, Facebook has shut down dozens of accounts on its own platform and on Instagram which it said were aimed at influencing the vote, and that it was exploring a possible link to Russia.

In the elections, the Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives, and the Times report is likely to add to political pressure on the company.

The world’s most popular social media platform has been on the back foot for months, including over the allegation that data from millions of Facebook users was abused by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help drive Trump to the White House.




Facebook used opposition-research firm to link critics to George Soros, report says



Report: To quiet critics, Facebook hired GOP firm that tied protesters to Soros

November 15, 2018

Social media company sought to temper anger over Russian meddling by making the billionaire philanthropist its boogeyman, according to NY Times

George Soros speaking in Berlin, September 10, 2012. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images via JTA)

George Soros speaking in Berlin, September 10, 2012. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON — Amid widespread anger over its failure to thwart Russian-linked accounts from using its platform to meddle in the 2016 election, Facebook hired a GOP opposition research firm to discredit the activists leading the charge against it, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

That firm then went and said there was one man, in particular who was behind protest movement against the social media giant: The billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Image result for facebook,pictures

According to the report, Facebook undertook some crisis management in 2017 by recruiting Definers Public Affairs, a Washington area-based consultancy, to help it recover from the public’s outrage over the presidential election. Definers is comprised of former Republican operatives who use political tactics and apply them to private corporations.

During the 2016 election, the Kremlin spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on fake accounts that were used to damage the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and boost her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump.

Using the social media platform — which has connected more than 2.2 billion people globally — to influence the American electorate was a key part of Russia’s strategy to help elect Trump. Critics claim that Facebook engineers saw warning signs about this early on and did nothing about it.

As fury over that was surmounting — and Congressional probes were initiated — Facebook hired Definers in October 2017 to handle crisis management and help alleviate the controversy. The firm tried to invalidate criticism against Facebook by linking its critics to Soros.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 11, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Facebook … used Definers to take on bigger opponents, such as Mr. Soros, a longtime boogeyman to mainstream conservatives and the target of intense anti-Semitic smears on the far right,” the New York Times said in its report. “A research document circulated by Definers to reporters this summer … cast Mr. Soros as the unacknowledged force behind what appeared to be a broad anti-Facebook movement.”

Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, has often been falsely depicted as a puppet-master behind protest campaigns. Most recently, US President Donald Trump suggested he was behind those who descended on Capitol Hill to demonstrate against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

He has also been accused by far-right extremists of being behind 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights watchdog, has said that conspiracy theories about Soros are one of the most consistent expressions of anti-Semitism online.

George Soros speaks onstage at Lincoln Center on April 18, 2017, in New York City. (Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Physicians for Human Rights/AFP)

Yet Soros has often been a fierce critic of Facebook. The Times described him as a “natural target” for the social media company founded by Mark Zuckerberg, who is Jewish.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in January, he had attacked Facebook and Google, describing them as a monopolist ‘menace’ with ‘neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions,’” according to The Times.

Soros, who is estimated to be worth roughly $8 billion, is a deeply active in liberal causes. He is one of the biggest funders of Democratic candidates and donates generously to left-wing advocacy groups like J Street

The New York Times said it was fairly common for large hedge fund managers to hire firms like Definers, but it’s more rare for large tech companies.

A former spokesman for Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, Tim Miller, who then went to work for Definers told Recode in June 2017 that the firm’s goal when working with tech companies should be to “have positive content pushed out about your company and negative content that’s being pushed out about your competitor.”