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Incitement Encouraging Violence Against Jews Can No Longer Be Ignored; and Jews Who Participate Must Not Be Tolerated

A pro-Hamas protester with a sign comparing the Auschwitz extermination camp with the current war in Gaza at a demonstration in Paris. Photo: Reuters/Henrique Campos

Last week, a disturbing scene unfolded in the streets of Teaneck, New Jersey. A rally turned into a violent mob, with chants calling for harm against the local Jewish community. These weren’t protests against policies — they were direct threats and attempts to intimidate Jews at places of worship.

This was no routine political demonstration exercising free speech. It was incitement against the local Jewish community, and the larger American Jewish community at large.

The only reason this mob descended on Teaneck was because it is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish populations in the United States. Their sole target was the Jewish community itself.

Most chillingly, the protesters turned their vitriol on a synagogue that was hosting ZAKA — an apolitical organization responsible for handling the bodies of Jews for interment, and burying the victims of the October 7 massacre according to ritual traditions. To threaten and attempt to attack those whose role is to ensure kavod ha-met — reverence for the deceased — is an abhorrent violation of human decency and dignity.

This was not an isolated incident either. From Los Angeles to London, we’ve seen an escalating trend of rallies and protests devolving into naked antisemitism, and attempts to harass, intimidate, and terrorize Jewish communities. The perpetrators are fueled by age-old hatreds that are newly energized. They are frustrated because the IDF is too strong, so they take out their aggression on Jewish civilians. Hamas started this war by attacking Israeli civilians, and now, their followers and supporters have learned this tactic and are going after Jewish civilians the world over.

We must draw an unambiguous line. Peaceful protest is a hallmark of democracy, whether objecting to governmental policies or advocating for causes. But when protests metastasize into direct incitements to violence, the paths of peace have been abandoned.

Some may argue that even the most odious chants are protected speech. I disagree. The famous example is that you cannot falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and claim free speech.

Rabble-rousing rhetoric that puts lives at intentional risk is not free speech, but rather provocation with the potential to incite violence — which crosses a bright red line.

We have seen this line crossed time and time again. Academic administrators acted properly when firing faculty members who claimed that genocidal chants against Jews are protected speech. Law enforcement has thankfully started arresting and prosecuting domestic extremists whose virulent speech is a match to domestic terrorism’s powder keg.

The chants and actions in Teaneck — and similar scenes globally — have reached beyond protected speech and into incitement. When protesters move to directly harass, intimidate, and verbally attack worshipers at their synagogues — and Jews in their homes — the right to peaceful protest ends. It becomes illegal harassment, incitement, and a true threat to public safety.

Therefore, I call on municipal leaders, state governments, and Federal law enforcement to treat these “protests” as they would any other situation involving criminal harassment, trespassing, threats, incitement, and potential violence. Aggressive deterrent measures and prosecutions are now required to protect public safety and the civil rights of Jewish communities. We are very thankful to the local police forces who are working tirelessly to keep the peace at these rallies. Unfortunately, they are just barely hanging on, and more steps need to be taken.

More critically, I appeal to all people of conscience — especially those identifying as Jewish — to join in resolutely condemning the Jews who knowingly participate in these vile displays of antisemitism under the guise of “protest.”

If you join a rally featuring blatant antisemitic slurs, bigotry, and calls for violence against your own people, you have turned your back on the Jewish community. There is no room in our ranks for Jews who participate in calls for violence against other Jews. Period. Whether they are Neturei Karta members, or belong to other denominations, this type of behavior has no place in the Jewish community. I call upon all national and local Jewish institutions to come together and join me in saying this clearly with one voice.

Rabbi Steven Burg, Aish’s CEO, also serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, as an Executive Board Member of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a Board Member of Yeshiva University High Schools and Naaleh High School. Prior to Aish, Rabbi Burg was the Eastern Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where he oversaw the Museum of Tolerance in New York City and contributed to the Center’s fight against antisemitism.  

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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