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At US Colleges, Antisemites Are More Equal Than Others

Harvard University President Dr. Claudine Gay delivers remarks on Dec. 5, 2023, during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on the recent rise in antisemitism on college campuses. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

The 1945 satirical novella Animal Farm by George Orwell depicts a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where animals can be equal, free, and happy. But their idealistic aspirations are eventually crushed under the dictatorship of a pig fittingly named Napoleon, who is supported by a group of snobby pigs and a herd of adulating sheep.

Initially, one of the Seven Commandments established by the animals to govern their new society is “All animals are equal.” But towards the end of the book, this slogan is altered by the pigs to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The changed mantra reflects the rise of a new elite class among the animals, specifically the pigs, who start to resemble the oppressive human rulers they initially overthrew. The altered commandment symbolizes a betrayal of the revolution’s original ideals, and the establishment of a new tyranny under Napoleon and the pigs.

Orwell’s “Some animals are more equal than others” is a piercing critique of political hypocrisy. It reflects the reality seen in governing entities around the world that loudly champion the ideals of equality and justice for all, yet subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, create an elevated class among those under their jurisdiction.

This paradox of proudly proclaimed egalitarianism contrasted with the reality of selective privilege forms a cornerstone of Orwell’s sharply observed narrative, and it remains as accurate today as when it was first published.

This past Tuesday, we were presented with a shocking live-action version of Orwell’s perceptive observation during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing about antisemitism on college campuses.

The gathering heard from three presidents of Ivy League universities, Claudine Gay of Harvard University, Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania, and Sally Kornbluth of MIT. All three universities have witnessed a dramatic spike in overt and even violent antisemitism over the past few weeks, since the Hamas-perpetrated October 7th massacre against Jews in southern Israel.

It was a perfect opportunity for these senior representatives of three bastions of academic excellence to publicly distance themselves from the radical elements that have overtaken student activism on their campuses, and turned their institutions into cesspools of ugly prejudice and hatred against Jews. Instead, they obfuscated and used every rhetorical trick in the book to evade admitting the truth, which is this: on their college campuses, Jews are not treated equal to other minorities, which means that Jewish students can be targeted in ways that other minority groups can never be targeted, and those who target them will not face formal consequences.

Consider this astounding exchange: “Yes or no, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate [your university’s] rules of bullying and harassment?” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) repeatedly asked this question to the witnesses. Kornbluth initially answered, “If targeted at individuals not making public statements,” and then added, “I have not heard calling for the genocide for Jews on our campus.”

Stefanik pointed out that MIT students had publicly called for “Intifada” — which is a euphemism for violence and terrorism against Jews. “I’ve heard chants which can be antisemitic depending on the context,” Kornbluth responded. In what context is calling for an Intifada not antisemitic, one wonders.

The answer is simple and tragic: in a world where Jewish rights are not equal to the rights of others, calling for an Intifada is not considered antisemitic. Although, imagine calling for an Intifada against Black, or Asian, or transgender people; would anyone hesitate to consider the context?

Magill was equally slippery: “If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment.” Stefanik kept going: “I am asking, specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?”

Magill responded, “If it is directed, severe, pervasive — it is harassment … it is a context dependent decision, Congresswoman.”

Stefanik appeared stunned. “It’s a context-dependent decision? That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context — that is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer!”

The pantomime continued with Magill’s next answer: “If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment.” This time Stefanik was even more shocked. “Conduct, meaning committing the act of genocide? The speech is not harassment? This is unacceptable! Ms. Magill, I’m going to give you one more opportunity for the world to see your answer. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s Code of Conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment, yes or no?”

But Magill still refused to be drawn. “It can be harassment,” she responded after a pause and then a smirk.

At this point, Stefanik moved on to Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay. “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment, yes or no?” It was almost as if the three presidents had colluded and rehearsed their lines in advance. Perhaps they had.

“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay responded.

By this time Stefanik was incredulous. “What’s the context?” she asked.

Gay shot back, “Targeted at an individual.”

Stefanik’s jaw dropped. “It’s targeted at Jewish students, Jewish individuals. Do you understand your testimony is dehumanizing them? Do you understand that dehumanization is part of antisemitism?”

Gay didn’t need to answer. We all know the answer. The three pigs had made their views very clear. Dehumanizing Jews doesn’t matter. Or, it only matters when the powers-that-be decide it matters; Jewish victims of dehumanizing antisemitism have no say in whether it matters or not. Because “some animals are more equal than others.”

“This is why you should resign,” Stefanik told the Kornbluth, Magill, and Gay, as she finished her round of questions. “These are unacceptable answers across the board.” Although of course they won’t resign, because on their Animal Farms, they are Napoleon, and they are fully supported by similarly snobby pigs and herds of adulating sheep.

In Parshat Vayeishev, we read the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers had a grudge against Joseph and unjustly targeted him. Motivated by jealousy and blinded by hatred, they accused him of crimes he had never committed, and eventually sold him off into slavery to Egypt. There he encounters even more injustice — he is thrown into prison after being falsely accused of attempting to rape his master’s wife.

The Talmudic sages note that Jacob’s brothers were convinced their treatment of Joseph was equitable and just; they were seemingly unable to put themselves in Joseph’s shoes and see things from his perspective. In fact, as far as they were concerned his perspective didn’t count — only their perspective mattered. Crucially, they had the power to be judge and jury, despite their inherent biases — and their refusal to be objective resulted in family turmoil that took decades to come right.

Joseph’s resilience and eventual rise to power in Egypt, despite his brothers’ treachery, offers us some hope from the dawn of Jewish history. It reminds us that even in the face of overwhelming injustice and prejudice, integrity and truth do eventually prevail.

This parallel is a poignant reminder that despite the current dominance of unfair and biased attitudes against Jews, and the lack of equity in the treatment of Jews as the current crisis in the Middle East continues to rage, the potential for a just outcome still remains. Let us pray it is not too long in coming.

The author is a rabbi in Beverly Hills, California.

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Kosher organizations go to court, arguing that current meat production regulations jeopardize ritual slaughter practices

Canadian kosher organizations were in court in Montreal this week, asking for an injunction that would allow them to continue the practice of shechitah, or Jewish ritual slaughter, amidst newly imposed regulations by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In a hearing before the Federal Court on July 10 and July 11, the Jewish Community Council […]

The post Kosher organizations go to court, arguing that current meat production regulations jeopardize ritual slaughter practices appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Hezbollah’s Deadly Rocket Attacks Raise Questions About New Tactics

A general view shows the town of Majdal Shams near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights March 25, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JNS.orgIn the past seven days, two rocket attacks by Hezbollah targeting moving Israeli vehicles—one military and one civilian—in the Golan Heights have prompted a review within the Israel Defense Forces.

The attacks, which resulted in the deaths of a civilian couple on Wednesday and an IDF major on July 4, have raised serious questions about the operational capabilities of Hezbollah and local Israeli air defenses.

The first incident occurred on July 3, when a rocket struck a vehicle at a military camp, killing Maj. (res.) Itai Galea, 38, a deputy company commander in a reserve armored brigade.

The attack was launched by Hezbollah in response to an Israeli targeted killing of senior Hezbollah commander Muhammad Nimah Nasser, head of the territorial Hezbollah Aziz Unit. Nasser was killed in an airstrike on his vehicle in the Tyre region of Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah fired more than 200 rockets and 20 drones at locations in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, with one rocket striking Galea’s vehicle.

On Tuesday, reports emerged that an airstrike in Syria on the Damascus-Beirut highway killed Hezbollah operative and former Hassan Nasrallah bodyguard Yasser Qarnabsh, with I24 News reporting that a second casualty of that attack was an officer of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Saudi state-owned Al Arabiya news channel reported on Wednesday that Qarnabash was responsible for transporting personnel and weapons to Syria.

Following that attack, Hezbollah unleashed a barrage of rockets targeting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, killing Israeli couple Noa and Nir Barnes, from Kibbutz Ortal in the northern Golan Heights. The attack left three children orphans.

Military investigations are underway to determine whether Hezbollah used any line-of-sight or drone-assisted targeting for these strikes.

The IDF’s initial findings suggest that these were not precision-guided munitions but rather parts of larger salvoes aimed at Israeli targets in the area.

But that doesn’t rule out the possibility that Hezbollah used lookouts or drones to help guide its barrages against moving vehicles.

The twin incidents have led to outrage and frustration among residents and local officials in the Golan Heights.

Living under threat

Katzrin Mayor Yehuda Doa expressed anger at the government’s lack of a clear strategy to deal with the persistent threat from Hezbollah. He emphasized the daily reality of living under the threat of rocket fire, which has become a grim routine for the north’s inhabitants.

The IDF’s air defense system has also come under scrutiny. The road where the Barnes couple was killed, near the Nafah Junction, was classified as an open area by the Israeli Air Force’s air defense network.

This designation could mean the rockets fired into the area were not intercepted because they were expected to strike uninhabited terrain. However, the road in question, Route 91, is a major road in the Golan Heights, frequently used by residents, raising concerns about the criteria used to classify areas for rocket interception.

Air defense policy generally avoids intercepting rockets aimed at open areas to conserve interceptor missiles.

The IDF has confirmed it is performing a thorough review of recent attacks to ensure improved protection.

Another layer of complexity is added by the GPS disruptions common in the Golan Heights, Army Radio noted. These disruptions can prevent the IDF Home Front Command’s alert app from functioning correctly, making it difficult for residents to receive timely warnings of rocket attacks. This technical issue may have played a role in the failure to alert residents in the targeted area about the danger they faced.

While the Home Front Command has recommended marking areas of interest on its official application for better alert coverage, this advice would not be relevant if the area in question is designated as “open.”

Ultimately, as Israel continues with its targeted killings of senior Hezbollah terrorists, the Lebanese organization has proved its ability to exact painful prices, leading to wider strategic questions about Hezbollah’s ability to absorb the deaths without losing most of its core terrorist–military capabilities.

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Jews in Europe ‘More Frightened Than Ever Before’ Amid Surging Antisemitism, New Survey Finds

Sign reading “+1000% of Antisemitic Acts: These Are Not Just Numbers” during a march against antisemitism, in Lyon, France, June 25, 2024. Photo: Romain Costaseca / Hans Lucas via Reuters Connect

A striking 96 percent of Jews in Europe had encountered antisemitism in their daily lives even before the historic surge in anti-Jewish hate crimes that followed the outbreak of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, according to the European Union’s rights watchdog.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on Thursday released an extensive survey of nearly 8,000 self-identified Jews from 13 European countries that found shocking levels of antisemitism across the continent. The largest participant countries in the survey were France, Germany, and Hungary.

“Jews are more frightened than ever before,” FRA director Sirpa Rautio said in the survey’s foreword. “We need to do more to ensure the safety and security of our Jewish communities. The EU and Member States must remain firm in their commitment to stem the rising tide of antisemitism. They must ready themselves to respond to heightened intensity and threats.”

According to the results, 80 percent of Jews surveyed said they feel antisemitism has worsened in recent years, while 76 percent of respondents reported hiding their Jewish identity “at least occasionally.” Meanwhile, 34 percent said they avoid Jewish events or sites “because they do not feel safe.”

About 60 percent said they were not satisfied with their national government’s efforts to combat antisemitism. The same number expressed concern about their family’s safety and security.

While nearly all Jews in the survey — 96 percent — said they had encountered antisemitism in the 12 months before the survey, 64 percent reported encountering it “all the time.” The most common occurrence was experiencing negative stereotypes about Jews, such as “holding power and control over finance, media, politics, or economy.” Some 37 percent of respondents said they were harassed over the past year, and 4 percent said they had experienced antisemitic physical attacks in the same period.

Because of antisemitism, 45 percent of European Jews reported that they had considered emigrating from Europe, mostly to Israel.

The survey of European Jewry was conducted from January through June of last year, before the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7 and the start of the war in Gaza. Several European countries have experienced record spikes in antisemitic incidents since the atrocities of Oct. 7.

Of note, the shocking report — which includes some information on antisemitism collected from Jewish organizations this year — employed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Beyond classic antisemitic behavior associated with the likes of the medieval period and Nazi Germany, the IHRA definition includes denial of the Holocaust and newer forms of antisemitism targeting Israel such as demonizing the Jewish state, denying its right to exist, and holding it to standards not expected of any other democratic state.

In the past few weeks, leaders of European Jewry have echoed the sentiment found in the FRA’s report.

“It seems France has no future for Jews,” Rabbi Moshe Sebbag of Paris’ Grand Synagogue told the Times of Israel following France’s recent parliamentary elections. “We fear for the future of our children.”

Meanwhile, Belgium’s only Jewish member of parliament, Michael Frielich, sounded the alarm to Mishpacha Magazine. “The situation is so awful [in Belgium] that at a meeting I attended at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, I told those present, ‘The whole well here is poisoned,’” he said. “People drink the anti-Israel claims in the media all day. And even if we try to explain things, however gently — they are hardly accepted.”

A top European Rabbi recently called on Israel to “develop a practical contingency plan for the absorption of European Jewry in Israel,” as antisemitism spreads across the continent.

“We are in a battle for the continuation of Jewish life in Europe,” European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said last month. “Jews in traditional dress or those with mezuzahs on their doors are experiencing relentless harassment. Jewish students face threats to their lives and are excluded from university courses, while hate slogans are freely scrawled on Jewish homes, synagogues, and cemeteries.”

The FRA’s report included a section incorporating data compiled after Oct. 7. Each European nation that was featured in the survey reported a shocking increase in antisemitic incidents in the wake of Hamas’ atrocities in Israel — in some cases by over 1,000 percent.

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