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Red Pins at the Oscars: Is the Call for a Ceasefire Antisemitic?

Director Jonathan Glazer, of the United Kingdom, poses with the Oscar for Best International Feature Film for “The Zone of Interest” in the Oscars photo room at the 96th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US, March 10, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

JNS.orgA handful of celebrities wore ceasefire pins to the annual Academy Awards ceremony in California on March 10. The red pins represent the organization Artists 4 Ceasefire, which has crafted a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden that has been signed by roughly 400 actors, musicians and other Hollywood personalities. Many pro-Israel activists have taken issue with the pins, some alleging that their wearers are expressing subtle, if not blatant, antisemitism.

While it may be true that some of the signatories to the Artist 4 Ceasefire letter are indeed antisemitic, it is also certain that many of those who have taken up the ceasefire cause—both Hollywood luminaries and average citizens—are motivated not by any animus to Jews, per se, but by an underlying opposition to war of any kind. To recognize this is not to justify or validate the calls for a ceasefire, but it is an important distinction to make for a number of reasons.

First, it is important to reserve the label of antisemite for those who are actually hateful of Jews. To ascribe this virulent bias to those to whom it does not apply isn’t helpful to the Jewish and/or Israeli cause. It waters down the term by equating true racists with those who oppose the war in Gaza for less malicious reasons. It also deafens the public to genuine claims of antisemitism by crying wolf too often. Furthermore, it immediately alienates those who are falsely accused and decreases the likelihood of productive dialogue in which they may be willing to hear an alternate perspective and eventually alter their opinion.

In order to effectively communicate with those who are calling for a ceasefire for reasons other than antisemitism, it is important to maintain objectivity and to discern their authentic motives and feelings. While Jews generally, and Israelis in particular, are extremely sensitive to the ultimate ramifications and consequences of a ceasefire, many who have no direct relationship to the conflict are not. A ceasefire to the vast majority of Israelis (and to the 82% of Americans who support Israel’s continued war against Hamas) means the following:

Hamas will be left intact to commit future Oct. 7-style massacres as they have stated explicitly that they will do;
The 130-some hostages that remain in captivity will not be released;
And the Iranian mullahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and other fascistic extremist groups around the world will be emboldened to carry out further terrorist attacks throughout the world.

There are certainly those within the ceasefire camp who understand these consequences and continue to assail Israel’s right to defend itself because of an antipathy for Jews and/or the Jewish state. Yet to many Western liberals, including some percentage of the 400 Hollywood figures who signed the Artists 4 Ceasefire letter and/or wore red pins to the Oscars, a ceasefire means, quite simply, the end of war and the cessation of civilian casualties. This, in itself, is a noble goal. If one genuinely believes that a ceasefire will result in this humane outcome, then one would be callous to ignore the suffering and horror of war, and to refrain from advocating for a stoppage of violence.

Yet this belief is shortsighted and unrealistic. The reality, of course, is that a ceasefire will result not in fewer casualties but in far more deaths and carnage. Left in power, Hamas will not only regroup and commit further atrocities against both Jews and Palestinians alike; it, along with a host of other terrorist organizations and Iranian proxies, will be emboldened by what it will deem a victory against Israel and the West. This is not merely speculation. The U.S. director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, testified on Monday that groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda have been motivated by Oct. 7, and this will occasion an upsurge in terrorist attacks around the world. Anything less than a crushing and disabling defeat of Hamas will thus beget additional bloodshed for years and possibly decades to come.

Hollywood endings do not exist outside of Hollywood.

Rather than antisemitism, the refusal of many ceasefire activists to acknowledge this reality can be attributed to naiveté and wishful thinking. The opposition to war and an aversion to violence are shared by all people of morality and conscience. War is indeed horrific, and innocents necessarily suffer—particularly in a case where combatants knowingly embed themselves in civilian populations to exploit them as human shields. Yet there is a time when inaction is not an option. There is a time when a country must defend itself against an enemy that refuses to coexist peacefully. The choice for Israel is not peace or war; it is war now or the inevitable massacre of its innocent civilians again and again until the implacable threat is eliminated once and for all.

It is the obvious reality of Israel’s impossible conundrum that makes it easy to ascribe malice and bias to those promoting a ceasefire: The heinous acts of Oct. 7 (all recorded, publicized, and then scrubbed and denied by the perpetrators); the continued captivity of more than 130 kidnapped and brutalized hostages; the explicit guarantees of future massacres; the clear historic record of Israeli concessions and attempts at peaceful coexistence all met with additional violence and intransigence; the documented indoctrination of Palestinian children with hatred and bloodlust for their Jewish neighbors. How is it possible that a rational person could assess these facts and determine that Israel should be hamstrung in its efforts to finally resolve this conflict by eliminating those who have perpetuated it for generations, and who promise to perpetuate it until there is not a single Jew that remains anywhere in the land?

Yet Hollywood is not known for its moral clarity, and artists are not generally admired for their rationality. They are, rather, feted for their creativity and the pathos that is reflected in their imaginative work. Artists are dreamers, not realists. Israelis, on the contrary, do not have the luxury of indulging in fantasy and ignoring the cold, hard reality that comes from living on the front lines. While all people of hope are inclined to dream of a time of peace, Israelis have long been disabused of the notion that laying down weapons will foster harmony. Sadly, there are those who respect nothing more than force and who perceive any attempt at reconciliation as a sign of weakness and an invitation to further aggression.

Hollywood is not known for its moral clarity, and artists are not generally admired for their rationality.

Western liberals, of whom the Hollywood elite are frequently the most vocal and visible representatives and mouthpieces, do not understand the culture of death and radicalism that pervades Hamas and other terrorist fundamentalists. They are under the thrall of the parochial illusion that all populations think and believe as we do. They are convinced that just as we value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so do those who refer to America as the Great Satan. If only we would lay down our weapons and extend our arms to them, then they would abandon their grievances and welcome our embrace. But Hollywood endings do not exist outside of Hollywood.

Israel supporters and Jews worldwide are facing the greatest challenge they have known in generations. Oct. 7 was the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, and in the past five months, antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed by hundreds of percentages across the Western world. There is certainly the need for vigilance and the development of strategies to combat the resurgence of antisemitism in places where it was erroneously thought to be no more. Yet simultaneously, we must be careful not to cry wolf and misidentify the motives of those who have been misinformed or who have not yet taken the time to rationally evaluate the long-term outcomes of their position.

War is horrific, and the cessation of violence is absolutely the proper goal. Yet were the signatories of the Artists 4 Ceasefire letter presented with the facts of the conflict and reality of the long-term consequences of Israel’s inability to finish Hamas, there is reason to believe that at least some of the red pins would be replaced by yellow ribbons. If one truly cares for humanity—for the lives of Jews, Palestinians, and people of all backgrounds and persuasions—then the only answer is to fight against those who refuse to coexist and to cease fire only when they are unable to murder, maim, rape and torture those who do not accept their tyrannical rule.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

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

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

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 meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released 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.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

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

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

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