Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

German bank’s ‘antisemitism’ leads United Israel Appeal to shut account

August 25, 2018

The German branch of the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal – the prominent Israeli public fundraising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state – closed its account on Thursday with the Bank for Social Economy (Bank für Sozialwirtschaft) because the financial institution refuses to shut down a bank account belonging to the hardcore anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East.

“There must be no free pass for antisemitism and hatred of Israel in Germany. And only because an organization is labelled ‘Jewish’ and partly founded by Jewish people does not mean that this is the view of the Jewish community in Germany and has distanced itself from the goals of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement,” said Sammy Endzweig, the chairman of Keren Hayesod in Germany, in a statement Thursday explaining the account closure.

Image result for German flag is pictured at the Reichstag building in Berlin, photos

The German flag is pictured at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany

Keren Hayesod’s rejection of the bank’s anti-Israel activity deals a severe blow to the Cologne-based bank’s reputation and financial health. The Bank for Social Economy has been engulfed in an widening antisemitism row since it re-opened an account with the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East in April 2017.

The Germany-based Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East organization energetically promotes the BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post first revealed the bank’s Jewish Voice account in 2016, prompting the bank to terminate the account with the anti-Israel group.

“We cannot and will not silently watch,” said Endzweig, referring to the bank’s enabling of Jewish Voice to launch economic warfare on Israel.

“We as a pro-Israel organization, which raises money for social projects in Israel, decided after an intensive exchange with the bank to close our account with the Bank for Social Economy,” he said, adding that Keren Hayesod took its action to shut its account “after the bank reopened the account of the Jewish Voice association and retains a business relationship” with the anti-Israel group.

In a highly-detailed press statement published on Keren Hayesod’s website, the organization said BDS is antisemitic and that Jewish Voice pledged to support the BDS movement and has deceived the public about its activity. 


Keren Hayesod cited Dr. Felix Klein, the federal government ‘s commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, who termed the goals of BDS “antisemitic.”

Klein told The Jerusalem Post in May that the Bank for Social Economy should boot out its pro-BDS business.

Keren Hayesod wrote that the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a political think tank affiliated with the Free Democratic Party in Germany, concluded in a study the BDS movement is “anti-Israel” and “totalitarian.”

Keren Hayesod added that Jewish Voice acknowledges in its bylaws and published statements that it supports the BDS movement.

The pro-Israel organization flatly stated it does not believe the explanation provided by Jewish Voice to the bank that it merely wants an end to Israel’s alleged occupation of disputed territories and is not against the existence of the Jewish state.

“We hold this statement to be untrue because the association is still committed, in its bylaws, to the BDS movement,” Endzweig said.

“Jewish Voice works with a number of empty phrases that aim to mislead from its actual intentions. Whoever supports BDS embraces their goals and principles.”

Critics have pointed out the contradiction that the Bank for Social Economy claims its dedicated to “reconciliation between Germany and Israel” but enables a BDS entity to destabilize and delegitimize Israel’s economy and existence.

“For us, it is not understandable why the Bank for Social Economy sticks with Jewish Voice,” said Endzweig, adding that “the bank’s arguments [to reopen Jewish Voice’s account] did not convince us. The closure of the account was unanimously decided by the executive committee.”

When asked by the Post about Keren Hayesod’s decision, Stephanie Rüth, a spokeswoman for the bank for Social Economy, responded: “The Bank for Social Economy directly exchanged views with Keren Hayesod Germany. We will not, however, comment on this publicly.”

Rüth said the bank’s position is known. In a March statement, the bank said it rejected BDS.

“The Bank for Social Economy rejects any form of antisemitism, but we nevertheless accept that there are widely diverging views on the Middle East conflict and the relationship between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. Underpinning this approach is the principle of freedom of expression, which in the light of German history we consider especially important.”

Endzweig and Keren Hayesod were roundly praised for establishing a red line that should not be crossed in the fight against antisemitism in Germany.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Post that “we applaud the thoughtful and correct decision” of Keren Hayesod to close its bank account.

A veteran Israeli diplomat told the Post that the decision was “beautiful.”

Malca Godstein-Wolf, an activist who organized the cancellation of the pro-BDS singer Roger Waters’ appearances on German television, wrote: “That’s right!” and added that bank chairman Professor Harald Schmitz “courts Jew-haters and snubs honest customers! What a shame!”

Keren Hayesod said in its statement that “whoever really wants to work for a better situation for the Palestinians can criticize the living conditions of the people administered by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

“There is neither freedom of expression nor free or regular elections, no independent parties, no equal rights, no right to assembly, no independent justice system, no religious freedom and no respect for basic rights. The association Jewish Voice never comments on these circumstances.”

The pro-Israel group said the Bank for Social Economy is the only bank in Germany that provides an account to Jewish Voice, adding that other financial institutions have rejected business with BDS-affiliated organizations.

Keren Hayesod further noted that the city of Frankfurt announced earlier this year that it will not commence business with banks that work with BDS groups. The cities of Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich also passed legislation or initiatives to not provide space to BDS groups.

Keren Hayesod’s decision to sever business ties with the bank could set off a chain reaction of NGOs and companies leaving the bank due to its alleged enabling of antisemitic activity.

“We have called on the Bank for Social Economy to end its business relations with BDS-affiliated organizations. If the [bank] does not act, we look forward to changing to another financial institution,” Heike Hausweiler, a spokeswoman for Jaffa Flohr, the president of the Jewish National Fund in Germany, told the Post in August.

The German LGBT organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation terminated its account in April with the bank due to the bank’s BDS activity.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is considering the inclusion of three senior executives of the bank – Schmitz and his two deputies, Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis – on its list of the top ten worst cases of anti-Israel and antisemitic activity in 2018 because of the bank’s enabling of the Jewish Voice campaign targeting the Jewish state.

Rabbi Cooper told the Post that “No German should have anything to do with [BDS]. It is toxic, antisemitic and shame on the bank for alleging otherwise.”

Queries to Schmitz, Luckner, and Kahleis were not returned.


Hamas leader: ‘On our way’ to ending Israel blockade

August 21, 2018

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said Tuesday that an end to Israel’s more than decade-long blockade of Gaza was “around the corner”, as talk of a possible truce deal intensifies.

Indirect negotiations between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel brokered by Egyptian and UN officials have reportedly included discussion on easing the blockade, but by no means a complete lifting of it.

Speaking to thousands of Palestinians during prayers for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Haniya did not directly address the possiblity of a truce, mooted in Israeli and Palestinian media for weeks.

© AFP | The leader of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, Ismail Haniya (Haniyeh), tells thouands of Muslim worshippers an end to Israel’s more than decade-long blockade is “around the corner”, as talk of a possible truce deal intensifes

“Thanks to these marches and resistance, we are just around the corner from closing the page on this unjust blockade,” he said, referring to months of protests along the Gaza-Israel border, some of which have drawn a deadly response from the Israeli army.

He seemed to refer to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s concerns over a truce that does not include his Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas have been deeply divided for more than a decade.

Haniya said any agreement would come “with a national consensus and an Arab safety net in order to establish the necessary safeguards to implement what is agreed upon”.

“We are on our way to ending this unjust blockade of Gaza,” he said.

Two Palestinians were shot dead during border protests on Friday, bringing to 171 the number killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since demonstrations began on March 30.

One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the protests and encouraging Gazans to attempt to breach the heavily guarded border fence.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials have been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since 2008.

Israeli media have speculated it could involve an easing of Israel’s crippling blockade of Gaza in exchange for calm on the border and the return of the bodies of two soldiers killed in 2014.

Israel is also seeking the return of two Israeli citizens believed held by Hamas.

The Gaza border has been notably calmer in recent days as speculation over the indirect negotiations has intensified.



The UN’s Insanity on Gaza

August 21, 2018

When the UN chief ignores Hamas and highlights another one-sided mandate focused only on Palestinian civilians, he once again makes the body he represents irrelevant for Israel and dangerous for Palestinians

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gives a statement after delivering a speech on disarmament and denuclearisation at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2018.

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gives a statement after delivering a speech on disarmament and denuclearisation at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Geneva, Switzerland\ Denis Balibouse/ REUTERS

The saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” has been attributed to several people over the years, including Albert Einstein.  Now, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ latest report on the spectrum of options to help protect Palestinians seems like a perfect illustration of that statement.

Guterres focused on four options: 1) A more robust UN presence on the ground with more UN human rights, political and coordination experts to strengthen UN prevention capabilities and increase the organization’s visibility. 2) Additional resources to strengthen UN programs and humanitarian and development assistance to address Palestinian needs. 3) Civilian observers, based on a UN or non-UN observer mission, with a mandate to report on the protection of Palestinian civilians. 4) Physical protection with an armed UN military or police force.

>> Hamas is desperate for a deal with Israel. Here’s proof | Opinion

A Palestinian man waits to receive aid at a United Nations food distribution center in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City July 1, 2018.
A Palestinian man waits to receive aid at a United Nations food distribution center in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City July 1, 2018.\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

Over the years the Palestinians have been one of the major recipients of international aid; indeed, it has been argued that the Palestinians receive one of the highest levels of aid in the world. The expectation that adding more money for the protection of Palestinians to the equation would change the situation seems unrealistic, if only due to different needs of Gaza and the West Bank. The former requires an immediate humanitarian plan of action, and they both need a long-term development program for infrastructure, job creation and enhancement of democratic institutions. From donor fatigue, to concerns regarding how the aid is distributed, more money will likely just mean more of the same.

With over 100 international organizations on the ground and a robust UN presence based mostly in Jerusalem, the UN has senior political players such as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov (UNSCO), the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), professional organizations like the World Food Programme and the usual alphabet soup of UN and international non-governmental organizations. Needless to say, all the international organizations act as advocates for the Palestinians, and are extremely visible, despite what the UN chief may say.

The idea of civilian observers is also not new in our region. In Hebron, after the 1994 massacre of Palestinians by Baruch Goldstein, a Temporary International Presence in Hebron was established to guarantee the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians. Its mandate was revised over the years and its current one was determined in the Hebron Agreement in 1997, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The force was established to guarantee the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians, the same logic and goals as the one the UN is now suggesting for Gaza. The problems of the one-sided mandate of such organizations can be clearly seen following the recent reports of a TIPH observer slashing tires of an Israeli vehicle, or a video that circulated of an observer slapping an Israeli settler child.

Finally, the idea of a UN military or police force to deter or protect civilians is useless in the Palestinian arena due to the already highly politicized reality. Israel has learned that it cannot depend on international forces like UNIFIL and UNDOF for its security concerns. When things get tough, these forces seem to only focus on Israeli violations, repeatedly failing to gain Israel’s faith or confidence in their contribution.

When the UN secretary general highlights another one-sided mandate focused only on Palestinian civilians, he once again makes the body he represents irrelevant for Israel. The Israeli civilians targeted by Hamas’ rockets and tunnels and the weekly Hamas-initiated and planned confrontations at the Gaza border fence, which result in unfortunate and unnecessary deaths, also need to be considered.

When the UN ignores Hamas as a strategic regional actor – one that runs Gaza, uses the Strip as a staging ground for terrible, indiscriminate attacks, and abuses its civilians by making them into human shields, I would ask: What is the UN doing to protect the Palestinians in Gaza from Hamas?

Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Peter Lerner is a crisis communications consultant, he served for 25 years in the IDF as a spokesperson and a liaison officer to international organizations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.Twitter@LTCPeterLerner

Israel Closes Gaza Crossing Following Clashes at Border Protests

August 19, 2018
The Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Israel announced Sunday that it has closed the Erez crossing for movement, with the exception of pressing humanitarian cases, due to the ongoing clashes at the border with Gaza that carried on over the weekend.

The Erez crossing, situated along the northern part of the Strip, is used for the movement of people between the Strip and Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that he made the decision to close the crossing after a situation assessment he made on Saturday due to ‘violent events at the border last Friday.’

On Friday afternoon, Gaza’s Health Ministry said that two Palestinians died and hundreds more were injured in clashes with the Israeli military amid a protest. The Israeli military stated that several Palestinians attempted to breach the border fence and that thousands disrupted order in the area, prompting forces on the ground to use riot dispersal means as well as live fire to disperse the demonstrators.

Last week, Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing, the commercial crossing through which fuel, gas and other provisions are passed into the coastal enclave.

The crossing had been closed due to the hostilities that erupted between Israel and the Palestinians after several weeks throughout which Israel’s south was targeted by incessant rocket fire.

Also last week, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement that went into effect on Wednesday.

Israeli ministers discussed Wednesday the details of the agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Egypt, in a special meeting on the situation in Gaza.

The understandings are based on the principles that were agreed upon by the parties at the end of the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. These include, in the first stage, lifting restrictions at the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing and on the fishing area in Gaza, in addition to rehabilitation of Gaza infrastructure, in return for a cessation of attacks from both sides.

The agreement was approved in principle by the security cabinet minister on Sunday during a cabinet discussion, though not by vote. The only ones who objected, as publicly announced, were  Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Lieberman did not object but supported the position of the defense establishment in favor of the agreement. On Wednesday, the agreement entered into force, the details were again presented and the security cabinet received an update on the progress.



Israel closes people crossing with Gaza — After firebombs and IEDs hurled at the border fence, Israel says

August 19, 2018


Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases over border incidents that saw protests and clashes at the weekend, an Israeli official said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees the passage confirmed that the Erez crossing had been closed.

Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire.

Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory.

Image result for Erez crossing, photos

The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The spokeswoman for the defence ministry unit, known as COGAT, did not say how long the crossing would be closed.

The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.

Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.

Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.

Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.

At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.

UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.

Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.



Peace Between Palestinians and the Jews? Abbas calls for Intensifying “Popular Resistance” Against Israel

August 18, 2018

The Palestinians, he said, should not “underestimate the importance of popular resistance.”

 AUGUST 18, 2018 18:51

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraord

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey. (photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called on Palestinians to “keep the ground aflame with popular resistance” against Israel. The Palestinians, he said, should not “underestimate the importance of popular resistance.”
In closing remarks in Ramallah to the PLO Central Council, a key decision-making body, Abbas called on Palestinians to protest at Khan al-Ahmar, the Bedouin shantytown located east of Ma’aleh Adumim which is slated for demolition.
He claimed the decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and evict its 180 residents was part of an Israeli plan to divide the West Bank.
Abbas repeated his demand that Hamas hand full control over the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based PA government. Otherwise, he said, Hamas should assume full responsibility over the coastal enclave.
“There should be one state, one system, one law and one security force in the Gaza Strip,” Abbas added. “If they [Hamas] don’t want to hand the responsibilities over to the Palestinian Authority, then they should assume their responsibilities.”
Abbas said that any funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip should be channeled only through the PA government.
The PLO council, which concluded a three-day conference, reaffirmed Palestinian opposition to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East and vowed to pursue efforts to thwart it.
“The US administration is a partner of the Israeli occupation government,” the council alleged. “It is part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”
The Palestinians will continue with their policy of suspending political relations with the US administration until it backtracks on its “illegal decisions” regarding Jerusalem, refugees and settlements, the council said in its statement.
It was referring to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut US funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and what Palestinians perceive as US support for settlements.
The PLO delegates affirmed their commitment to the idea of holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East under international sponsorship, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
With regards to Palestinian-Israeli relations, the PLO council said, “The relationship of our people with the Israeli government is based on a conflict between our people and our state, which is under occupation, and the force of occupation. Our direct goal is the independence of the State of Palestine. This requires moving from the phase of self-rule to the phase of statehood.”
The council approved previous decisions taken by other Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, to carry out a “comprehensive definition of political, economic, and security ties” with Israel, “revoke recognition of Israel until it recognizes the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and suspend all forms of security coordination [with Israel].”
The PLO council also decided to form a “higher committee” to “safeguard” UNRWA and pursue efforts to provide the needed funds so that the UN agency would be able to assume its responsibilities toward Palestinian refugees.
Referring to current efforts to achieve a long-term truce between Israel and the Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the council said it was categorically opposed to “suspicious projects aimed at separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and the eternal capital of Palestine, Jerusalem.”
The PLO council claimed the Egyptian and UN-sponsored efforts to achieve a truce in return for humanitarian and economic aid to the Gaza Strip were part of Trump’s unrevealed peace plan.
“The truce with the Israeli occupation is the national responsibility of the PLO, which is the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” the council said. “It is not a factional issue.”
The PLO council warned that the talk about humanitarian and economic projects in the Gaza Strip was aimed at “destroying the Palestinian national project and liquidating the Palestinian cause.” It stressed there will be “no state in the Gaza Strip, and no state without the Gaza Strip.”
The council called on the Palestinian Authority government to immediately cancel all measures it had taken with regard to salaries and financial payments to civil servants in the Gaza Strip. It also praised the “heroic” Hamas-sponsored protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which are being held in the context of the so-called “March of Return.”
The PLO council called on Palestinians to step up and expand the “popular resistance” against Israel and support the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Senator Cory Booker photographed holding a sign bearing a pro-Palestinian, Open Borders movement slogan

August 4, 2018

Senator Cory Booker was photographed holding a sign bearing a pro-Palestinian movement slogan. The image appeared on the Twitter feed of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a self-described “coalition of 330+ groups” working “for a US policy toward Palestine/Israel based on freedom, justice, and equality.”

“From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” the sign read.

Palestinian Rights@US_Campaign

Excited to be here at Netroots Nation talking with progressives like Sen. Cory Booker about our shared commitment to freedom, justice, and equality for all people.

Booker, however, claims he wasn’t aware that the sign called for an end to the border wall between Israel and the Palestinian territory, but rather only a U.S. border wall with Mexico.

“Just before delivering a speech in New Orleans, Senator Booker was approached by dozens of people for photos,” Booker’s spokesman, Jeff Giertz, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency via email.

“In one instance, amid the rush, he was posing for a photo and was passed a sign to hold – he didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel,” said Giertz said. “He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Booker reportedly posed with Leah Muskin-Pierret, who is the government affairs associate for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The organization “endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel,” according to JTA.

Meanwhile, conservative actor James Woods called out Booker for his hypocrisy via Twitter:

Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.

Anti-Semitic online harassment in Germany on the rise, study finds

July 19, 2018

When Yorai Feinberg first opened his restaurant in Berlin, he felt welcome. But lately the Israeli has increasingly been the recipient of hate mail. A new study has found that hate in Germany has become more radical.

Yorai Feinberg (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen)

Yorai Feinberg has gotten used to hearing from “Ludwig Fischer.” Every few days the Berlin restaurant owner receives emails from a man who writes under the pseudonym of one of Hitler’s most notorious SA henchmen. He calls Feinberg a “filthy rat,” says the Holocaust is just a “scam” and rants that all Jews will land in the gas chamber.

Feinberg has collected some 60 pages of hate mail from Ludwig Fischer alone. “I don’t take it so personally anymore. I don’t take it too seriously,” says Feinberg.

Threshold getting lower

The Israeli says that when he came to Berlin six years ago, he felt at home right away: “I was immediately welcomed in Berlin.” Feinberg lived in Vienna before moving to Berlin, where he says the mood toward Jews and Israelis was less relaxed than in Germany. But he adds: “Things have gotten a bit worse meanwhile.”

The last few months have seen several high-profile attacks on Jews in Germany. Just last week a Jewish-American professor was attacked by a young German of Palestinian descent in the city of Bonn. In April, an attack on a yarmulke-wearing man in Berlin made international headlines.

Read moreGerman Jewish groups say NGOs must fight anti-Semitism if they want public funds

But it is online where attacks and insults are most frequently directed toward Jews and Israelis. That is according to a new study conducted by the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin), in which researchers studied 300,000 mostly anonymous texts. Most came from social media sites. The conclusion: Not only are more hateful comments directed at Jews, they are also becoming more radical.

“The threshold is sinking,” says Monika Schwarz-Friesel, who heads the TU Berlin institute for language and communication. “People use the anonymity of the internet to disseminate anti-Semitic comments.”

Anti-Semitism from the heart of society

Feinberg had his first encounter with anti-Semitism in Germany’s capital on the street. In December of 2017, a man berated him for several minutes in front of his restaurant. Feinberg recorded the incident and put it online. He says he received a lot of support from across the country. Nevertheless, he has also received an increasing amount of hate mail. “The problem is not a few evil individuals,” he says, “but all of those who agree with them.”

Read more‘Solidarity Hoodie’ challenges anti-Semitism

The TU Berlin study backs up that statement. “Anti-Semitism doesn’t only come from right-wing extremists or the populist scene,” says Schwarz-Friesel. She notes that left-leaning and liberal people as well as Muslims drew her attention with their anti-Semitic comments. “Everyday anti-Semitism rooted in the heart of society is the most dangerous,” in Schwarz-Friesel’s estimation. Radical statements are often brushed off as crazy, but when educated segments of society express anti-Semitic sentiment it is much more likely to gain acceptance, she says.

Old prejudices

“We were shocked to see that prejudices against Jews had changed so little over the last hundred years,” says Schwarz-Friesel, adding that Jews are still seen as the “scourge of the world,” a race that must be eradicated.

The arguments of today’s anti-Semites differ little from people with similar prejudices in the sixteenth century. One slight change, however, is that today’s anti-Semitism is often mixed with criticism of the state of Israel.

Read moreSeparating anti-Semitism from criticism of Israel

Most of the hate mail directed at Feinberg comes from the far-right. Pseudonyms like Ludwig Fischer point to a particular bent and the texts themselves tend to suggest a certain ideological template. Writers often deny the Holocaust, claiming that concentration camps never existed and that the Jews themselves that were responsible for the mass murder that took place during the Second World War, not the Nazis.

“The atmosphere in Germany has become more extreme overall, in every direction,” says Feinberg “Those on the right are getting more extreme and the left has also grown more extreme as a result.”

No perpetrator punished

Nevertheless, Feinberg is fighting the hate, but it isn’t always easy. When he shared the first hate mail he received from Ludwig Fischer on Facebook, it was immediately taken down and his account was blocked. The social media network’s censorship algorithms seemingly do not differentiate between the threatening and the threatened. Feinberg says he also feels abandoned by the justice system: “None of the attackers have been punished yet. I have experienced a number of extreme cases where I think the person issuing the attacks deserves to be punished for their actions.”

“If this trend continues, anti-Semitism will become more normal in real life, not just online,” says Schwarz-Friesel, explaining that today, the internet and reality are more intertwined than ever.

Still, Feinberg is hopeful that the situation will improve: “I am not going to leave Germany just because of a tiny and insignificant part of society.”


In Germany, online anti-Semitism is going mainstream

July 18, 2018

Jew-hatred on the web has risen 22% in a decade, with bigotry masquerading as anti-Israel criticism and relying on classic tropes, research reveals

Private security personel with 'Aryan Brotherhood' on his T-shirt opens the gate at the venue of the 'Schild und Schwert' (Shield and Sword) neo-Nazi festival, in the small eastern German town of Ostritz on April 20, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

Private security personel with ‘Aryan Brotherhood’ on his T-shirt opens the gate at the venue of the ‘Schild und Schwert’ (Shield and Sword) neo-Nazi festival, in the small eastern German town of Ostritz on April 20, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

A long-awaited study by internationally renowned anti-Semitism expert Monika Schwarz-Friesel has found that the amount of German anti-Semitic content on the internet has grown massively in the last 10 years, permeates mainstream society, and is increasingly extreme.

Released Wednesday, the research project studied 300,000 pieces of German internet content between 2014 and 2018, with a focus on social media. During the first year of the study, slightly less than 23 percent of the content was classified as anti-Semitic. In 2017, this number had jumped to over 30%.

A similar study conducted by Schwarz-Friesel in 2007 found only 7.5% of the internet content examined to be anti-Semitic, indicating an increase of more than 22% over the last decade.

The latest results show not only a massive increase in the amount of anti-Semitic content found online, but also a radicalization in terms of the content’s quality. For example, anti-Semitic comments in response to news and other articles have not only grown in number, but have become more rabid.

The study was funded by the German Research Association, and the results were published today at a press conference at the Techinical University of Berlin, where Schwarz-Friesel is a professor of cognitive science.

Monika Schwarz-Friesel. (Marc Neugröschel/Times of Israel)

“Anti-Semitism is ubiquitous in online communication,” says Schwarz-Friesel. “It has also increased and intensified in regard to Web 2.0, and hyperlinks to photos, texts, songs, and films.”

In fact, campaigns against anti-Semitism themselves on social media networks such as Facebook elicit massive amounts of anti-Jewish comments. Thirty-eight percent of comments posted in response to a 2014 German Facebook campaign entitled #Never Again Jew-Hatred were actually anti-Semitic.

The study also found that much online anti-Semitism appears as stereotypes projected at the State of Israel.

Schwarz-Friesel says that Israel-related anti-Semitism can be distinguished from legitimate criticism of Israel through several quantifiable metrics. She says there is little ground for oft-voiced concerns that any criticism of Israel can potentially be viewed as anti-Semitic.

Pepe the Frog, an internet meme, has become a symbol of the alt-right. (Twitter/Lior Zaltzman)

“It has been scientifically proven that Israel-related anti-Semitism is based on classic anti-Jewish stereotypes,” says a statement by Schwarz-Friesel and her team of researchers.

Remarkably, the study also found that anti-Semitic statements masquerading as criticism of Israel often appear in contexts unrelated to the Middle East conflict.

The Israel-related anti-Semitism, according to the researchers, is especially worrying as it is often considered to be socially acceptable and therefore meets little resistance among the mainstream and elites of society. This causes it to play an especially integral role in the spreading and consolidation of anti-Semitic worldviews.

However, anti-Semitism related to Israel is not the most widespread form of Jew hatred online. Fifty-four percent of the anti-Semitic material reviewed by researchers was based on classic anti-Semitic tropes, such as, “Jews are humanity’s greatest woe.”

Countering assertions that Muslim anti-Semitism is largely a response to Israeli politics, Muslim anti-Semitism was found to be based on such classic stereotypes more often than on Israel-related topics.

Worryingly, the study claimed that the overall increase in online anti-Semitism was not coming from extremist elements. This signifies that bigotry against Jews is not confined to radical splinter groups, but rather permeates mainstream society.

Finally, the study found a uniformity in anti-Semitic notions among users regardless of political affiliation or ideological background, bearing witness to anti-Semitism’s social entrenchment and cultural continuity.

Ocasio-Cortez draws ire from Democrats: ‘Meteors fizz out’ — Called ‘clueless’ by critics

July 17, 2018

Frustrated Democratic lawmakers are offering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez some advice: Cool it.

Image result for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, photos

Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political world with her upset primary victory last month over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the head of the House Democratic Caucus and a rising star within the party.

But while the improbable win made Ocasio-Cortez an overnight progressive superstar, a number of House Democrats are up in arms over her no-holds-barred approach, particularly her recent accusation that Crowley, who has endorsed her candidacy, is seeking to topple her bid with a third-party run.

Some legislators are voicing concerns that Ocasio-Cortez appears set on using her newfound star power to attack Democrats from the left flank, threatening to divide the party — and undermine its chances at retaking the House — in a midterm election year when leaders are scrambling to form a united front against President Trump and Republicans. 
The members are not mincing words, warning that Ocasio-Cortez is making enemies of soon-to-be colleagues even before she arrives on Capitol Hill, as she’s expected to do after November’s midterms.“She’s carrying on and she ain’t gonna make friends that way,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). “Joe conceded, wished her well, said he would support her … so she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”

“She’s not asking my advice,” he added, “[but] I would do it differently, rather than make enemies of people.” 

Asked if Ocasio-Cortez is, indeed, making enemies of fellow Democrats, Pascrell didn’t hesitate. 

“Yes,” he said. “No doubt about it.”


Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) offered a similar message, saying success in the 435-member House comes slowly — and hinges largely on the ability of lawmakers to forge constructive relationships with other members. Alienating more senior lawmakers within your own party, he warned, will only stifle the ability of Ocasio-Cortez to get anything done — even despite her newfound celebrity.

“Meteors fizz out,” Hastings said. “What she will learn in this institution is that it’s glacial to begin with, and therefore no matter how far you rise, that’s just how far you will ultimately get your comeuppance.” 

He added: “You come up here and you’re going to be buddy-buddy with all the folks or you’re going to make them do certain things? Ain’t happening, OK?”

The criticism highlights a broader debate among House Democrats, who have wallowed in the minority for the past eight years and are still reckoning with the unexpected ascension of Trump to the White House. The discussion has featured animated internal disagreements over how — and when — to realize generational change at the top of the party, as well as ideological conflicts between liberals and centrists over how best to broaden the party’s regional appeal and retake power under the bombastic Trump administration.

Those questions have been revisited with the rise of Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist whose grass-roots campaign hinged on a promise to eschew corporate interests and discard the machine-politics approach she’s accused Crowley and the Democrats of adopting. In the eyes of her progressive supporters, Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air who will help in the fight for their ideals. 

“There is a need for progressive members in the caucus to raise the bar in terms of what we want and what we’re willing to do to get it,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who called Ocasio-Cortez to congratulate her on her victory. “And that involves a lot of risk, and that involves stepping on toes.”

Ocasio-Cortez scored a resounding victory over the 10-term Crowley, winning almost 58 percent of the vote, and the musically inclined Crowley quickly conceded the race on election night with a dedicated rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”  

Yet New York’s archaic election laws have complicated the contest, as write-in votes on a third-party line — the Working Families Party — will likely result in Crowley’s name being on the ballot in November. 

The revelation led Ocasio-Cortez last week to take to Twitter with accusations that Crowley retains hopes of upsetting her bid and returning to Congress next year. 

“So much for ‘Born to Run,’ ” she tweeted.

Crowley quickly responded, also on Twitter, noting that he can remove his name from the ballot only by dying, moving out of the district or running for a separate office he has no intention of holding — a dynamic he equates with election fraud.

“Alexandria, the race is over and Democrats need to come together,” Crowley said. “I’ve made my support for you clear and the fact that I’m not running.”

Corbin Trent, spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, downplayed the divisions, dismissing the episode as “one tweet” that’s been blown out of proportion.

“It’s a dead issue,” Trent said Monday by phone. “The election’s over.” 

Trent said there’s been no direct communication between Ocasio-Cortez and Crowley since the blowup, but suggested a conversation is “imminent.” 

Crowley’s office declined to comment on Monday.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are seething that Ocasio-Cortez would attack Crowley so publicly after securing her victory.

“Once an election is over and you win, why are you still angry?” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “I think it’s a lack of maturity on her part, and a lack of political acumen, for her to be that petty.

“We as Democrats better figure out who the real enemy is. And it’s not each other.”

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), a former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, was more gentle, though he still lamented the tone of the post-primary debate, attributing it to inexperience on the part of Ocasio-Cortez.

“When it comes to courtesy and decency, and especially the way — the class way — in which Joe Crowley has conducted himself and every overture that he’s made, I think she would be wise to rethink some of the things that she’s saying,” he said.

Separately, a number of Democrats are also going after Ocasio-Cortez for her decision to endorse a handful of progressive candidates challenging sitting Democratic lawmakers, a list that includes Clay and Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Adam Smith(D-Wash.), as well as Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Ocasio-Cortez has defended that decision, saying she’s merely endorsing other liberal candidates “who uplifted & acknowledged my own campaign before anyone else would.”

Some Democrats have rushed to her defense, arguing that primary endorsements are a healthy part of the democratic process — even when you’re bucking incumbents in your own party.

“Look, I took on Pelosi. I’m all for having fights and doing what needs to be done,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) following the 2016 elections. “As long as you’re doing that with sportsmanship and class, then I think it’s fine. 

“Let’s have a fight.”

Grijalva noted that he’s backed primary challenges to sitting Democrats, most recently in endorsing the liberal candidate hoping to unseat Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.).

Still, Grijalva acknowledged that such endorsements could make life tougher on Ocasio-Cortez when she arrives on Capitol Hill.

“The rules [she’s adopted] might not apply in terms of the protocols and the niceties of incumbents here in the House,” Grijalva said. “But once you’re in the middle of the work and you have an agenda to promote, you might need their help.”


Ocasio-Cortez criticizes ‘occupation of Palestine,’ but admits she’s no expert

Democratic congressional candidate says she recognizes Israel’s right to exist, called ‘clueless’ by critics

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the “occupation of Palestine” during a television interview, but stumbled when pressed to explain what she meant.

Appearing July 13 on PBS’s “Firing Line,” Ocasio-Cortez, 28, admitted that she was “not the expert” on the issue, drawing accusations that she was “clueless.”

Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, upset 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in last month’s primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which straddles Queens and the Bronx. Although she has commented infrequently on foreign affairs, in May she called the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israeli troops at the Gaza fence a “massacre.”

On “Firing Line,” host Margaret Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez “What is your position on Israel?” Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist.” She added: “I am a proponent of a two-state solution.” The candidate said her previous position on the Gaza clashes “is not a referendum on the State of Israel.”

“The lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer – if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx, unarmed, if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico – I just look at that [Gaza] incident more through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores,” she said.

“Of course the dynamics there, in terms of geopolitics … is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest,” Hoover replied.

Israel and its supporters have noted that among those killed in Gaza were members of the Hamas terrorist group, which encouraged its followers to breach the border fence. Hamas has acknowledged that at that May demonstration, 50 of the 61 killed were its members.

“Yes,” Ocasio-Cortez conceded, adding, “But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation … of Palestine [is] just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”

When Hoover, a former aide to President George W. Bush, asked Ocasio-Cortez to clarify what she meant, Ocasio-Cortez paused and answered: “I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”

After Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez to expand on her comments, the candidate said: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” and “I just look at things through a human rights lens and I may not use the right words … Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night.”

Her comments on Israel have prompted criticism from the right and left.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing a great service. Her argument is twofold: Israel a colonizing occupier of Palestine, and that she doesn’t know anything about the conflict,” wrote Seth Mandel, op-ed editor of the New York Post, on Twitter. “Accurate: those who think this have no idea what they’re talking about. At least she’s honest.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bashes Israel while admitting she is clueless about what is going on there. She simply toes the far-left, radical agenda. Elected Democrats are endorsing this when they endorse her.”

Asad Abukhalil, a professor in political science at California State University, Stanislaus, lamented that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about a two-state solution and support for Israel’s right to exist are “a sign that you have become an already mainstream Democratic candidate.”

“‘Israel’s right to exist’ is a euphemism for Israel’s right to occupy Palestine,” Abukhalil added. “@Ocasio2018 should have known that.”

Although the Democratic Socialists of America endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Ocasio-Cortez has not discussed her position on the boycott.

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has called Ocasio-Cortez the “future of our party.”