(JTA) – The social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is in the midst of a massive rebranding campaign. But an ad it posted this week briefly showcased an accusation made by some of owner Elon Musk’s biggest critics.
Released Thursday, the two-minute spot begins with a stream of user posts alongside the text “You’ve been here for news, sports and culture.” One of the visible posts, seen for a fraction of a second, is that of a critic of Musk, the site’s owner.
“Twitter’s value has fallen by at least 50%, and Elon is blaming it all on the Jews,” the post said.
The post, which came from a popular left-leaning account called Right Wing Cope, included a screenshot of one of several recent Musk tweets in which the billionaire tech mogul attacked the Anti-Defamation League.
Musk has accused the Jewish antisemitism watchdog of causing massive financial loss to the site because it called for advertisers to pause spending on the platform after Musk acquired it and removed guardrails against hate speech. In his post that can be seen in the ad, Musk claims the ADL “would potentially be on the hook for destroying half the value of the company.” The post was part of a series of tweets in which Musk threatened to sue the ADL for his company’s lost revenue and interacted with white supremacist accounts criticizing the group.
Musk himself has insisted that he is “pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind,” and hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a live chat earlier this week, during which Netanyahu praised his stated commitment to fighting antisemitism and encouraged him to continue fighting anti-Jewish bigotry.
X took down the ad hours after its release, prompting further snark from Right Wing Cope and others. It later uploaded a new version without the post that was critical of Musk.
“X took down an entire ad campaign because an editor who either hates their boss or was really negligent accidentally included one of my tweets calling Elon Musk antisemitic,” Right Wing Cope tweeted afterwards.
anyway here it is for posterity pic.twitter.com/vyxIsbjmyw
— Molly White (@molly0xFFF) September 21, 2023
Jewish billionaire Henry Swieca quits Columbia Business School board, saying campus is ‘unsafe’ for Jews
(JTA) — A Jewish billionaire investor and philanthropist quit the board of Columbia Business School, saying the campus had become unsafe for Jews since the launch of the Israel-Hamas war.
“With blatantly anti-Jewish student groups and professors allowed to operate with complete impunity, it sends a clear and distressing message that Jews are not just unwelcome, but also unsafe on campus,” Henry Swieca said in an Oct. 30 letter obtained Tuesday by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “My resignation is an expression of my deep concern for the direction in which the university is heading.” The Board of Overseers is the school’s main fundraising arm.
Swieca, 66, is the founder in 2010 of Talpion Fund Management and the cofounder of Highbridge Capital Management, which was acquired by J.P. Morgan Chase in 2008. The child of Holocaust survivors, he has been a member of the business school’s Board of Overseers since 2014. Forbes lists his worth as $1.9 billion.
His resignation, which he did not announce publicly, comes amid a flurry of protests by Jewish supporters of elite universities in response to the schools’ handling of the Israel-Hamas war following Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel. Prominent supporters of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have announced that they will or might no longer support their alma maters because of the presidents’ response to the war, and the private equity CEO Marc Rowan is reportedly trying to get others in the finance field to withhold donations over the issue.
In his letter, Swieca refers to a chant that has proliferated in anti-Israel protests since the launch of the war, “From the river to the sea,” which is widely understood by its critics to call for a Palestinian state that supersedes Israel.
“Statements from the university are meaningless when pro-Hamas students march on campus calling for the complete destruction of Israel,” he said. Defenders of the phrase say it his evolved since it was coined in the 1960s, when it represented longings for Israel’s removal, to a call for a binational state.
The letter did not specify incidents. The Columbia campus has long been a hotbed of pro-Palestinian activism, and student groups there called immediately after the attack for the school to cut ties with a program in Tel Aviv. On Oct. 16, a 19-year-old allegedly assaulted a Columbia student who was putting up posters on campuses featuring hostages taken by Hamas during its attack. The campus was also briefly closed to the public because of unrest.
On Oct. 30, the day Swieca dated his letter, Jewish students at the New York City university held a press conference demanding more robust action to protect Jews. They noted that the university had not mentioned Hamas in its statements about the war.
The Jewish students cited as incidents of antisemitism the discovery of a swastika painted in a bathroom and listed other allegations, including that pro-Palestinian students carried signs saying “resistance is not terrorism” during an on-campus walkout and that, at Columbia’s law school, a student said “F— the Jews” to a visibly Jewish student. They also said Jews were targeted with antisemitic tropes in group chats and demanded that Columbia specifically condemn Hamas which it had not done until then.
Swieca’s bio page has disappeared from Columbia’s Board of Overseers listing. In his letter, Swieca says he graduated in 1982, a date also listed in his official biographies. The university has identified him as a 1983 graduate.
Glenn Hubbard, in 2014 the dean of the school, said in a release then that he looked forward to working with Swieca. “Given his business knowledge and expertise, along with his familiarity with Columbia Business School, I am certain he will provide tremendous insight to our community. I look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead,” Hubbard said.
Swieca said in the release that his education at the school was transformative. “Columbia Business School provided me with the foundational knowledge I needed to achieve professional success, and I have carried the lessons I learned in the classroom with me through all of my business ventures,” he said.
Talpion’s website says Swieca is the child of Holocaust survivors and grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. It lists a number of philanthropies it backs, including the American Israel Education Fund, an arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Meor, a Jewish heritage study program. He runs a grant program that pays out $10,000 for programs that advance Jewish education and outreach. According to the Washington Post, Swieca also funded the expansion of an Israeli organization that aims to rebuild the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount, a holy site for Muslims, an ambition that is widely understood as anti-Muslim.
Talpion’s website says that “the name of the company derives from the Biblical word ‘Talpiot’, meaning a castle’s turret, and is also the name of a highly elite intelligence unit of the IDF.”
Education secretary: Colleges could face funding cuts if they don’t address antisemitism
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said colleges could lose federal funding if they fail to address antisemitism and other bigotries, following up on a meeting last month with Jewish leaders alarmed by rising antisemitism on campuses in the wake of the Israel Hamas war.
Cardona made his warning in an interview on CNN on Monday ahead of the release the next day of a letter reminding federally funded schools of their obligation to protect Jews and other minorities.
“I would want to provide support for these universities, provide guidance. And if there are egregious acts, I want to make sure that we’re investigating,” he told the network. “Ultimately, if we have to withhold dollars from a campus refusing to comply, we would.”
Cardona’s comments do not represent a new policy, but they suggest that Cardona is prepared to be aggressive in pressing colleges to act. In a release on Tuesday formally announcing the letter, Cardona tied the letter’s instructions to what Jewish organizations have said is a massive spike in antisemitism on campuses since Hamas terrorists struck Israel on Oct. 7, launching the war.
“The rise of reports of hate incidents on our college campuses in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict is deeply traumatic for students and should be alarming to all Americans. antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all other forms of hatred go against everything we stand for as a nation,” he said.
The letter sent Tuesday to colleges that receive federal funds, signed by Catherine Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, describes in its first paragraph “an alarming rise in disturbing antisemitic incidents and threats to Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students on college campuses and in P-12 schools.”
In her second paragraph, Lhamon ties the money the schools get from the government to their legal obligations to protect minority students. Both public and private universities receive federal funds through a variety of pathways.
“I write to remind colleges, universities, and schools that receive federal financial assistance of their legal responsibility under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations (Title VI) to provide all students a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics,” Lhamon said in her letter. “It is your legal obligation under Title VI to address prohibited discrimination against students and others on your campus—including those who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian — in the ways described in this letter.”
In his Oct. 30 meeting with Jewish leaders, Cardona noted that the Biden Administration had already, prior to the Oct. 7 Hamas deadly attack on Israel, extended Civil Rights Act protections to religious minorities, including Jews and Muslims. He promised a two-week deadline to come up with a plan.
Jewish leaders at that meeting noted that the federal government in recent years has expanded Title IX of the same act, which bans gender discrimination, to allow for funding to be withheld from universities that do not address sexual harassment and assault. They suggested that the department could apply similar measures to Title VI as an incentive for compliance.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Jewish Democrat from Nevada, last week had sent a letter urging the Education Department to issue “updated guidance to college and university administrators making clear the consequences of failing to ensure the safety of Jewish students,” among other measures.
Rosen, who cofounded an antisemitism task force in the Senate, welcomed Cardona’s letter issued Tuesday. “I’m glad to see the U.S. Department of Education is taking action at my urging to remind school administrators of their legal responsibility to keep students safe from antisemitism and other forms of discrimination – or face consequences,” she said. “I’m continuing to urge the department to form a task force to counter campus antisemitism.”
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In a rare move, the US House of Representatives censures Rashida Tlaib for Israel remarks
WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives censured Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian American Democrat, for her rhetoric in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, including using the term “from the river to the sea.”
The 234-188 vote late Tuesday night saw 22 Democrats vote to censure Tlaib, and was sure to sharpen divides among Democrats over Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Some Democrats vehemently defended Tlaib’s right to free speech and others said the “From the river to the sea” term signifies the elimination of Israel. The vote was largely on party lines, reflecting the Republican majority, though four Republicans voted against censuring Tlaib.
Tlaib said she would not be intimidated by the censure vote, which will require her to stand in the well of the House chamber and listen to House Speaker Mike Johnson explain why she is being censured. “I will not be silenced and I will not let you distort my words,” she said.
The censure resolution was initiated by Rep. Rich McCormick, a Georgia Republican, and focused on statements by Tlaib since Hamas launched the war. It noted that Tlaib used the phrase on “from the river to the sea” Nov. 3 on social media and argued that “it is widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
Tlaib in her Nov. 3 post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, said she used the phrase to describe a democratic outcome for all in that region. “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate,” she said. “My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”
A number of Jewish Democrats decried the use of the phrase, but said limiting her speech set a dangerous precedent.
“As I have repeatedly made clear, I disagree vehemently with the comments made by Rep. Tlaib and condone no rhetoric that rejects the Jewish people’s right to self determination,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who is the dean of the House’s unofficial Jewish caucus. “I also defend the freedom of speech that each and every American is granted by our Constitution, even when I find that speech to be reprehensible, as I do in this case.”
Other Jewish Democrats said Tlaib’s offenses were serious enough to merit censure, which most recently was used on California Rep. Adam Schiff, a Jewish Democrat targeted by republicans for his work investigating former President Donald Trump.
“I recognize this censure resolution is not a perfect resolution in its language or form, but unfortunately it is the only vehicle available to formally rebuke the dangerous disinformation and aspersions that Rep. Tlaib continues to use and defend,” said a statement from Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider, who, like McCormick’s resolution, also cited the weeks during which Tlaib promoted a claim that Israel was responsible for hitting a hospital early in the conflict. A range of reporting and intelligence assessments determined the hospital was hit by a misfired Palestinian rocket. “I feel that I have no other recourse but to vote to censure her.”
Other Jewish Democrats joining Schneider in censuring Tlaib include Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Jared Moskowitz of Florida, Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Rep. Daniel Goldman of New York , Rep. Greg Landsman of Ohio, Rep. Kim Schrier of Washington and Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee.
At one point Tlaib grew emotional. She was surrounded by progressives associated with the “Squad,” a group of representatives known in part for harshly criticizing Israel. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, put her hand atop hers. “Palestinian people are not disposable, we are human beings like anyone else,” Tlaib said.
Tlaib is leading an effort to get Congress to urge President Joe Biden to pressure Israel into a ceasefire, something that Biden and Israel reject. Israel is determined to keep fighting until Hamas returns the more than 200 hostages it abducted into the Gaza Strip, and until the terror group is dismantled.
“Trying to bully or censor me won’t work because this movement to a ceasefire is bigger than one person,” she said.
Tensions over the ceasefire and how best to deal with the war are roiling Democrats. Earlier in the day, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat who is the minority leader, did not recommend a vote either way, but said the “River’ phrase was unacceptable discourse. “Echoing slogans that are widely understood as calling for the complete destruction of Israel — such as from the River to the Sea — does not advance progress toward a two-state solution,” he said. “Instead, it unacceptably risks further polarization, division and incitement to violence.”
It was the second attempt to censure Tlaib since the war started; a resolution advanced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, another Georgia Republican, failed in part because it packed in condemnations of the prosecution of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to overturn Biden’s election.
Tlaib said that calling her antisemitic was a means of censoring her. “The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent,” she said.
The post In a rare move, the US House of Representatives censures Rashida Tlaib for Israel remarks appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.