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Jews Aren’t White, and It Shouldn’t Matter

Members of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel dance during a ceremony marking the holiday of Sigd in Jerusalem, Nov. 11, 2015. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

The progressive worldview favors moral binaries such as oppressor and oppressed, colonizer and indigenous, etc. Instead of moving beyond the relevance of race, progressives claim that we need it in order to make sense of the world. In fact, the two groups that focus primarily on race are racists and progressives.

Where do Jews fit into this reductive calculus?

Jews are not racially homogeneous, but progressives don’t seem to appreciate that. Most Jews in the West are “white-passing” and well-off, so progressives throw them in with the list of oppressors. When looking at Palestinians, these uninformed progressives believe they see relatively weak, poor BIPOC people. If there is a conflict between powerful “white” people and poor brown people, the progressive worldview requires that they stand with the latter.

However, unlike American Jews who are largely of European descent, 55% of Israeli Jews are either Sephardi or Mizrahi. The former descend from Jews exiled during the Spanish Inquisition, and the latter are from North African and Middle-Eastern Jewish communities. They are not white. There are, for example, about 160,000 Black Jews living in Israel who emigrated from Ethiopia.

Jews don’t fit neatly into the overly simplistic worldview that has become gospel among progressives. In their attempt to make sense of the Mideast conflict using this reductive framework, progressives tend to ally themselves with terrorists and the most illiberal people on Earth, and denounce the only liberal democracy in the region.

If progressives support indigenous rights, they should support the State of Israel. After all, Jews are indigenous to that land, and the archeological record supports this. Hebrew was spoken and Judaism practiced on that land 1,00 years before Arabs came to the region with the Muslim conquest (i.e, colonization) of the 7th century. The only people with the same language and culture as the people living there over 2,000 years ago are Jews.

Jerusalem does not appear in the Koran, nor was it ever the capital of any Arab state. It is, however, mentioned in the Torah 700 times.

The land upon which Israel sits was a colony of empires, whose seat of power was elsewhere, such as the Ottomans and the Romans. Only the Jews ever had their seat of government in that place. When progressives deride Israel as a colonialist state, ask them what country Israel is a colony of. Israel isn’t an outpost of any other power.

Progressives do not acknowledge the more than 3,000 years of history and Jewish life on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, because it does not fit with their image of what indigenous people look like. If Palestinians are the weaker, browner people in this conflict, then they must have had their land stolen by the stronger, whiter group. Facts don’t matter. History doesn’t matter. Truth doesn’t matter.

This is the psychology animating the protests on college campuses and elsewhere across the country.

The fact that progressives use the whiteness of some Jews as an argument against Jewish indigeneity in Israel is especially repugnant. The only reason that white Jews exist is because Jews fled persecution in their ancestral homeland and bred with local populations in Europe. When progressives and antisemites make this argument, they are using the effects of ethnic cleansing against the actual victims of ethnic cleansing.

Some will claim that Israel is a pariah among nations because it is an apartheid state. However, this claim does not survive scrutiny. Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Arab. Arab Israelis vote, sit as judges in Israel’s courtrooms, and as legislators in Israel’s parliament. Moreover, they have equal rights — the same rights as every Jewish citizen — and they have more freedoms than citizens of any other state in the region. For example, they can attend the Middle East’s only gay pride celebrations in Tel Aviv.

So why do progressives protest when Israel defends itself, but not when Hamas beheads homosexuals in Gaza? Why do progressives protest the accidental and unintentional killing of civilians in Gaza but not the 230,000 civilians killed during the ongoing, decade-long Syrian civil war? Why have they not protested the 150,000 civilians killed in Yemen?

The most common explanations offered for this selective outrage are that these protestors are just virtue signaling hypocrites or that they are antisemites. And sure, some of them are. But it is too easy to simply dismiss them all in this manner.

Hanlon’s Razor is a principle of critical thinking, which states that one should not attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. In this instance, we should not brand all these protestors as antisemites when their actions flow directly from their flawed worldview.

The more charitable and intellectually satisfying explanation is that progressives don’t protest the wholesale slaughter of civilians in places like Syria and Yemen, because those conflicts don’t have a “white-passing” participant. Those conflicts don’t fit neatly into progressives’ simplistic worldview that everything is about race and oppression.

People who aren’t stuck in this misguided dogma were taken aback by the way that progressives sought to contextualize the Hamas massacre of October 7. But these progressives’ callousness is not just a function of antisemitism or confirmation bias. It stems from their adherence to the misguided belief that race and power are the most salient heuristic to determine who is right in any given situation. Israel has tanks and warplanes manned by “white pilots.” Palestinians are “brown” people hurling rocks at those tanks. From the progressive perspective, that’s all that matters.

Why is this way of thinking so predominant among young people? This is where conservatives had it right all along. Academia — and even lower levels of education — have been hijacked by progressive intellectuals who do not sufficiently respect their audience or their profession. It is a misuse of the trust placed in educators to indoctrinate impressionable young people. They should be teaching students information and concepts, so that students can reach their own conclusions. Instead, progressive academics grade their captive audience on how well they can regurgitate the conclusions that have been force-fed to them.

Students are encouraged to become activists, and told that “silence is violence.” For too long, the rest of us didn’t see the harm in the hypersensitivity to microaggressions, the self-flagellation of “white fragility” and “doing the work” of renouncing their privilege, or confessing their oppression. The harm is now apparent, and it’s scary.

What is the solution?

As they say, sunshine is the best disinfectant. The reason that terror apologists take down posters of children kidnapped by Hamas is because it shows the lie of their misplaced allyship. Those images create a painful cognitive dissonance that these progressives prefer to suppress. Make progressives keep tearing them down. Project them on buildings. Let those images haunt their dreams and weigh upon their conscience.

The Supreme Court recently invalidated affirmative action policies, but the Fourteenth Amendment does not prohibit policies designed to increase intellectual diversity on college campuses. These schools should publicly commit that they will stop hiring terror apologists, and that their employment contracts will require that professors not abuse their power by imposing their beliefs upon students. Let’s not forget that higher education in the US is a business, susceptible to the same market pressures as other businesses.

After the shocking testimony of the presidents of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT before Congress, donors are now aware of what is going on at these schools. They should continue to speak with their checkbooks. Students who value intellectual freedom on campus should divert their applications to institutions that welcome a diversity of opinions rather than the superficial diversity of complexion that these bastions of DEI have fostered.

Kenneth Blake teaches Critical Thinking and Government at a private high school in northern California.

The post Jews Aren’t White, and It Shouldn’t Matter first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Exclusive: Iran Sends Russia Hundreds of Ballistic Missiles, Sources Say

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 7, 2023. Photo: Sputnik/Sergei Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS

Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, six sources told Reuters, deepening the military cooperation between the two US-sanctioned countries.

Iran‘s provision of around 400 missiles includes many from the Fateh-110 family of short-range ballistic weapons, such as the Zolfaghar, three Iranian sources said. This road-mobile missile is capable of striking targets at a distance of between 300 and 700 km (186 and 435 miles), experts say.

Iran‘s defense ministry and the Revolutionary Guards – an elite force that oversees Iran‘s ballistic missile program – declined to comment. Russia‘s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The shipments began in early January after a deal was finalized in meetings late last year between Iranian and Russian military and security officials that took place in Tehran and Moscow, one of the Iranian sources said.

An Iranian military official – who, like the other sources, asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information – said there had been at least four shipments of missiles and there would be more in the coming weeks. He declined to provide further details.

Another senior Iranian official said some of the missiles were sent to Russia by ship via the Caspian Sea, while others were transported by plane.

“There will be more shipments,” the second Iranian official said. “There is no reason to hide it. We are allowed to export weapons to any country that we wish to.”

U.N. Security Council restrictions on Iran‘s export of some missiles, drones and other technologies expired in October. However, the United States and European Union retained sanctions on Iran‘s ballistic missile programme amid concerns over exports of weapons to its proxies in the Middle East and to Russia.

A fourth source, familiar with the matter, confirmed that Russia had received a large number of missiles from Iran recently, without providing further details.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in early January the United States was concerned that Russia was close to acquiring short-range ballistic weapons from Iran, in addition to missiles already sourced from North Korea.

A US official told Reuters that Washington had seen evidence of talks actively advancing but no indication yet of deliveries having taken place.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the missile deliveries.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday the ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea to Russia had proven unreliable on the battlefield, with only two of 24 hitting their targets. Moscow and Pyongyang have both denied that North Korea has provided Russia with munitions used in Ukraine.

By contrast, Jeffrey Lewis, an expert with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said the Fateh-110 family of missiles and the Zolfaghar were precision weapons.

“They are used to point at things that are high value and need precise damage,” said Lewis, adding that 400 munitions could inflict considerable harm if used in Ukraine. He noted, however, that Russian bombardments were already “pretty brutal”.

US AID DELAY WEAKENS UKRAINE’S DEFENCES

A Ukrainian military source told Reuters that Kyiv had not registered any use of Iranian ballistic missiles by Russian forces in the conflict. The Ukrainian defence ministry did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment.

Following the publication of this story, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force told national television that it had no official information on Russia obtaining such missiles. He said that ballistic missiles would pose a serious threat to Ukraine.

Former Ukrainian defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said that Russia wanted to supplement its missile arsenal at a time when delays in approving a major package of US military aid in Congress has left Ukraine short of ammunition and other material.

“The lack of US support means shortages of ground-based air defense in Ukraine. So they want to accumulate a mass of rockets and break through Ukrainian air defense,” said Zagorodnyuk, who chairs the Kyiv-based Centre for Defense Strategies, a security think tank, and advises the government.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked Tehran to stop supplying Shahed drones to Russia, which have become a staple of Moscow’s long-range assaults on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, alongside an array of missiles.

Ukraine’s air force said in December that Russia had launched 3,700 Shahed drones during the war, which can fly hundreds of kilometres and explode on impact. Ukrainians call them “mopeds” because of the distinctive sound of their engines; air defenses down dozens of them each week.

Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but months later said it had provided a small number before Moscow launched the war on Ukraine in 2022.

“Those who accuse Iran of providing weapons to one of the sides in the Ukraine war are doing so for political purposes,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday, when asked about Tehran’s delivery of drones to Russia. “We have not given any drones to take part in that war.”

Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia-based think tank, said a supply of Fateh-100 and Zolfaghar missiles from Iran would hand Russia an even greater advantage on the battlefield.

“They could be used to strike military targets at operational depths, and ballistic missiles are more difficult for Ukrainian air defences to intercept,” Lee said.

DEEPENING TIES WITH MOSCOW

Iran‘s hardline clerical rulers have steadily sought to deepen ties with Russia and China, betting that would help Tehran to resist US sanctions and to end its political isolation.

Defence cooperation between Iran and Russia has intensified since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia‘s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met the head of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Amirali Hajizadeh, in Tehran in September, when Iran‘s drones, missiles and air defence systems were displayed for him, Iranian state media reported.

And last month, Russia‘s foreign ministry said it expected President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi to sign a broad new cooperation treaty soon, following talks in Moscow in December.

“This military partnership with Russia has shown the world Iran‘s defense capabilities,” said the military official. “It does not mean we are taking sides with Russia in the Ukraine conflict.”

The stakes are high for Iran‘s clerical rulers amid the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that erupted after Oct. 7. They also face growing dissent at home over economic woes and social restrictions.

While Tehran tries to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel that could draw in the United States, its Axis of Resistance allies – including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen – have attacked Israeli and US targets.

A Western diplomat briefed on the matter confirmed the delivery of Iranian ballistic missiles to Russia in the recent weeks, without providing more details.

He said Western nations were concerned that Russia‘s reciprocal transfer of weapons to Iran could strengthen its position in any possible conflict with the United States and Israel.

Iran said in November it had finalized arrangements for Russia to provide it with Su-35 fighter jets, Mi-28 attack helicopters and Yak-130 pilot training aircraft.

Analyst Gregory Brew at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, said Russia is an ally of convenience for Iran.

“The relationship is transactional: in exchange for drones, Iran expects more security cooperation and advanced weaponry, particularly modern aircraft,” he said.

The post Exclusive: Iran Sends Russia Hundreds of Ballistic Missiles, Sources Say first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Middlebury College Response to Antisemitism Allegations Slammed by Watchdog Group

Signage for the U.S. Department of Education – Federal Student Aid Office at 830 First Street NE Washington, D.C., USA, on November 28, 2023. Photo: Gen Namer via REUTERS CONNECT

Middlebury College on Tuesday issued, as well as deleted, statements which indirectly responded to allegations of institutional antisemitism that a civil rights group lodged against its administration last week.

As The Algemeiner previously reported, StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel, filed a complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that high level officials at the school fostered a “pervasively hostile climate” for Jewish students by refusing, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering.

Middlebury responded to the charges on Tuesday, explaining the college’s “Educational Approach to the War in Gaza and Israel,” in two statements, the first of which was later deleted and replaced with a revision containing numerous “stealth” edits.

The first defended chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan widely considered as a call for a genocide of Jews in Israel, as utterance protected by its free speech policy.

“We are fully aware that, while this phrase is divisive, it is experienced and interpreted differently by different groups,” the school said. “Middlebury has extensive structures in place for mitigating ham that controversial speech can cause, and our open expression policy safeguards a learning environment ‘where all voices can be heard and have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.’”

According to the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice, Middlebury’s response did not directly address its handling of a vigil that Jewish students organized on Oct. 9 to mourn the victims of Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel, which happened two days prior. In its complaint, SWU alleged that Middlebury roadblocked the event, denying Jewish students police protection and demanding that they omit direct references to Jewish suffering in their remarks and promotional materials. In an email to the Jewish group that planned the vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

Additionally, no high level administrators agreed to speak at the vigil and condemn antisemitic violence, as well as terrorism. However, a month later, the administration accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official diversity-equity-and-inclusion (DEI) official, a request, StandWithUs insists, which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

In Tuesday’s deleted statement, Middlebury claimed that president Laurie Patton provided the Jewish students “remarks that were read at the vigil, condemning Hamas and pledging support and care for students.” Not true, StandWithUs, explained. Patton’s statements, like Middlebury’s previous statements about Oct. 7, mentioned only “violence we have seen in Israel and Gaza,” a description of the conflict at which SWU takes umbrage for its equating Hamas’ atrocities with Israel’s self-defense.

StandWithUs said in a press release on Wednesday that Middlebury’s statement is “mendacious,” noting that members of the Coalition for Dismantling Antisemitism at Middlebury are all hired faculty and staff, some of whom are accused of antisemitism in its complaint. SWU also charged that Middlebury’s claim to collaborate with a local Chabad organization is misleading as well, noting that “for over six years” the school has denied the group’s entreaties for formal recognition, a designation that would qualify it for funding and the privilege to reserve space on campus for events and other activities.

“It is no wonder that by the morning of February 20, 2024, Middlebury took its statement down from its website entirely and replaced it with an even more misleading post,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said. “Middlebury can no longer hide from its legal and moral duty to provide a campus environment for its Jewish students free from discrimination and harassment.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Middlebury College Response to Antisemitism Allegations Slammed by Watchdog Group first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Courage to disagree, with respect: York University student initiative Bridging the Gap promotes civil dialogue on Israel

How a campus initiative was revived following Oct. 7.

The post Courage to disagree, with respect: York University student initiative Bridging the Gap promotes civil dialogue on Israel appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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