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The Line from Jonathan Glazer to the Columbia and National Encampments

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

A week after Jonathan Glazer’s now infamous Oscar speech, a letter appeared in the Hollywood trade publication Variety that refuted his statement. That letter was signed by approximately 450 Hollywood professionals at the time of its initial publication. The number of signers would climb to more than 1,330 in the following days. I was among the 1,330 who signed the letter.

It was bad enough that Glazer drew, in the words of the letter, “a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.” But he also blamed the war on Israel’s occupation — “an occupation which has led to conflict,” as he put it.

An occupation of what, I wondered.

Israel hasn’t occupied Gaza since 2005, so that can’t be the cause of the current conflict. Many, even many Jews and Israelis, find Israel’s settlements on the West Bank problematic, but I’ve yet to see anyone make the case that this West Bank “occupation” was what led Hamas to attack on October 7.

That only leaves “occupation” in the sense that Israel’s enemies use the term — to describe the very existence of the state of Israel. That is precisely the meaning of “From the River to the Sea,” a geographic area that encompasses all of Israel.

So if Glazer is suggesting that Israel’s very existence is the cause of the conflict, what, I wondered, would he suggest as the solution?

Of course, an anti-Israel polemic like Glazer’s speech is hardly unusual or surprising — not before October 7, and even less so since. What upset me more than the speech itself was the applause it received from the audience that night, and the absence of any dissenting voices during the Oscar broadcast.

I can’t speak for everyone who signed the letter, but I thought it was important, essential even, that Glazer’s claims not go unchallenged in the general culture.

My father spent his working life as a professor of cultural anthropology. As such, he had a very specific lens through which he viewed various laws and policies in terms of how they impacted the culture beyond the more narrow realms to which they applied.

For example, he spoke about capital punishment not just in terms of its function in the criminal justice system, but also in terms of the message it sent throughout the larger culture regarding the value (or lack of value) our society places upon human life. And before the liberals who are reading this begin nodding too vigorously in agreement, he made the same point about abortion. Not that he opposed either abortion or capital punishment. But he saw the costs in terms of messages sent through culture and the impact those messages have upon the society at large.

And so, when Glazer stood upon one of the most prominent stages of our culture and sent his message, seeming to suggest that Israel caused the war by its very existence and is comparable to Nazi Germany, it had — and has — an impact.

I am not going to argue that Glazer’s speech directly led to the student encampments at Columbia and NYU and many other colleges. Nor will I argue that his speech resulted in the intensification of the rhetoric of those protestors, who have continued to praise Hamas, support the October 7 massacre, and oppose any Jewish state in the Middle East. I think it’s unlikely, given the demographics of the Oscars’ audience, that many of the student protestors saw the Oscars. But messages permeate culture like a cup of dye diffusing throughout a gallon of water.

The message Glazer sent has been doing just that.

Glazer’s not the only one, of course.  In Hollywood, he’s in the company of Susan Sarandon, Cynthia Nixon, and Mark Ruffalo, among many others. Hundreds of Jewish professionals signed a competing letter endorsing Glazer’s views.

When President Biden erroneously states that Israel has been “indiscriminately bombing civilians,” when our UN delegation refuses to veto a resolution calling for a ceasefire without conditioning it on the release of the hostages, when various US officials call on Israel to “be more careful” not to kill civilians (as though they are not already being more careful than any other military force in history, including ours), it all sends a clear message — that Israel is the villain in the current conflict.

I’ve heard from some pro-Israel Democrats who excuse this rhetoric: so what if Biden has to criticize Israel to appease his left flank politically, they say, as long as he keeps sending arms and aid? And yes, the arms and aid are important. But so is the rhetoric. According to a recent Pew Research poll, only 36% of Americans currently favor sending military aid to Israel. Is this shockingly low number due to all the anti-Israel rhetoric? How long before the negative rhetoric drives public opinion to the point where the continuation of aid is politically untenable? The rhetoric moves the culture, and our culture is definitely moving against Israel, and against all Jews.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he did not immediately begin sending Jews to concentration camps. It would be seven years until Auschwitz would open in 1940. A lot would happen in those seven years to lay the groundwork for Auschwitz, to prepare the culture with policies that demonized and dehumanized. In 1933, Jews were barred from the Civil Service and university positions. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws denied Jews German citizenship. In 1936, Jewish doctors were barred from practicing medicine. 1938 brought Kristallnacht, the expulsion of all Jewish pupils from German schools, and the forced transfer of all Jewish retail businesses to Aryans. And through all of this, there were mass anti-Jewish protests at German universities that might feel eerily familiar in light of recent news. This is a well known story to those who have studied the history of the period.

I don’t mean to suggest that governmental laws of discrimination and persecution in Nazi Germany are the equivalent of antisemitic chants and harassment on American campuses, but our culture is moving in a very disturbing direction. The rabid vitriol of the “mostly peaceful” campus protests certainly seems like an escalation — as we hear of students calling for “a final solution,” the destruction of Tel Aviv, 10,000 more October 7ths, and so on. This escalation has not come about because the death and destruction in Gaza has recently escalated. Quite the contrary, the fighting has largely paused. I would guess that the warming weather and approaching end of the school year partly explains the students’ timing. But so do the cumulative effects of the messages permeating the culture.

So are we now seven years away from our own Auschwitz? I’m not nearly pessimistic enough to believe that’s where we are headed. But groundwork is being laid and the culture is being changed. The preconditions for the Holocaust included the German national humiliation of World War I and an economic collapse the likes of which none of us have ever known. What would happen in this country if we suffered a humiliating defeat to, say, China, coupled with a Weimar-level economic catastrophe? Would it be possible for a demagogue to rise in need of scapegoats?  Would the groundwork that is being laid now in our culture, demonizing the Jews, come into play?

So what do we do? We push back against the negative messages going out in the culture. We refute Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar speech. We let President Biden know, as the Muslims in Michigan have done, that no, he cannot just count on our votes regardless of what he and his underlings say. We let our alma maters know, as Robert Kraft has done, that they no longer have our support or our money if they can’t protect their Jewish students. And we make sure that Israel thrives and remains secure, so that, just in case the worst should happen some day, we have a place to go this time.

Michael Kaplan is a TV writer-producer, playwright, and children’s book author. For his TV work, he has been nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning one.

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‘Looming Disaster’: Hamas Releases Video of Operatives Shooting at Israeli Community From West Bank

Palestinian fighters from the armed wing of Hamas take part in a military parade to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel, near the border in the central Gaza Strip, July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Hamas has begun releasing videos of its operatives opening fire from the West Bank into Israeli villages, raising fears the Palestinian terror group will eventually try to stage a significant attack in the territory.

On Wednesday, Hamas terrorists in the West Bank city of Tulkarm opened fire into the Israeli village of Bat Hefer, which is in Israel proper. They staged the attack from the top of a hill. This is not the first time it has occurred. Last month, terrorists in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — fired into the Israeli community as well.

NEW: Hamas terrorists in the West Bank opened fire on houses in the Israeli town of Bat Hefer at 7am as children were preparing to go to school

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) May 29, 2024

Yoav Zitun, a military correspondent for Ynet News, reported that Hamas is paying people in the West Bank between 500 and 1000 shekels who take a video of themselves shooting into Israeli communities and distribute the footage.

Seth Frantzman, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, responded to the report on X/Twitter, writing it “reminds me of the Great Return March antics of Hamas that paved the way to Oct. 7.”

For the march, Hamas mobilized more than 40,000 people to try and breach the fence between Gaza and Israel to attack its citizens. Rioters lit fires, threw stones at the Israel Defense Forces, and attempted to plant a bomb on the fence and breach it. Hamas paid people between $200 and $500 if they were injured and $3,000 if they were killed.

Terrorist attacks from the West Bank against Israeli targets have been on an upswing. Last month, terrorists shot from within the West Bank into the Israeli kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa.

Beyond shooting attacks, a terrorist killed two Israeli soldiers in Nablus in a ramming attack this week.

The terror incidents in the West Bank began to increase more than a year ago, but they have continued to occur since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

Frantzman called the situation a “looming disaster.”

“The rising attacks in the West Bank using the masses of stolen weapons will eventually become more sophisticated and can lead to an Oct. 7-type event because Israel has ignored security in the West Bank as it did at the other borders and allowed terror groups to exponentially grow over the last years,” he wrote.

The concern has been made more acute by the fact that the Palestinian Authority, which controls the Palestinian areas of the West Bank, is increasingly weak. In certain cities, such as Jenin, terrorist groups have effectively made the PA police obsolete and now have a significant ability to operate.

This is compounded by the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to take punitive measures against the PA, which could make it more likely to collapse and create a vacuum for terrorists to assert greater control.

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Jury Finds Donald Trump Guilty on All 34 Counts at Hush Money Trial

Former US President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court, May 30, 2024, in New York. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool via REUTERS

Donald Trump became the first US president to be convicted of a crime on Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

After deliberations over two days, the 12-member jury announced it had found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced. Unanimity was required for any verdict.

Trump watched the jurors dispassionately as they were polled to confirm the guilty verdict.

Justice Juan Merchan set sentencing for July 11, days before the July 15 start of the Republican National Convention expected to formally nominate Trump for president.

Merchan thanked the jurors for their service. “Nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do. The choice is yours,” Merchan said.

The verdict plunges the United States into unexplored territory ahead of the Nov. 5 presidential election, when Trump, the Republican candidate, will try to win the White House back from Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump, 77, has denied wrongdoing and was expected to appeal.

“This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt,” Trump told reporters afterwards.

“The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people,” Trump said, adding: “I am a very innocent man.”

He faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though others convicted of that crime often receive shorter sentences, fines, or probation. Incarceration would not prevent him from campaigning, or taking office if he were to win.

Trump will not be jailed ahead of sentencing.

Opinion polls show Trump and Biden, 81, locked in a tight race, and Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that a guilty verdict could cost Trump some support from independent and Republican voters.

A source familiar with the Trump campaign’s inner workings said the verdict was expected to prompt him to intensify deliberations on picking a woman as his vice presidential running mate.

Biden’s campaign said the verdict showed that no one was above the law, but noted that Trump still would be able to run for president.

“There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” the campaign said in a statement.

The jury notified the court they had reached a verdict at 4:20 pm (2020 GMT) and read out all 34 guilty counts shortly after 5 pm.

Trump‘s fellow Republicans quickly condemned the verdict. “Today is a shameful day in American history,” House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said in a prepared statement.

The jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business documents after sitting through a five-week trial that featured explicit testimony from porn star Stormy Daniels about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006 while he was married to his current wife Melania. Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels.

Trump‘s then-fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election, when he faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior.

Cohen testified he handled the payment, and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse him through monthly payments disguised as legal work. Trump‘s lawyers hammered Cohen’s credibility, highlighting his criminal record and imprisonment and his history of lying.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche asked Merchan to throw out the guilty verdict, arguing that it was based on the unreliable testimony of Cohen. Merchan denied his request.

Trump‘s near-certain appeal of his historic conviction on criminal charges in New York is likely to focus on porn star Daniels’ salacious testimony about their alleged sexual encounter as well as the novel legal theory prosecutors used in the case, but he faces long odds, legal experts said.

Falsifying business documents is normally a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated it to a felony on grounds that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution.

Trump complained that he could not get a fair trial in his heavily Democratic hometown.

The case was widely regarded as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces. Jurors heard testimony of sex and lies that have been public since 2018, although the charges themselves rested on ledger accounts and other records of Cohen’s reimbursement.

It was known as the “zombie case” because Bragg brought it back to life after his predecessor opted not to bring charges.

This case was also likely to be the only one to go to trial before the election, as the others are delayed by procedural challenges.

If elected, Trump could shut down the two federal cases that accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. He would not have the power to stop a separate election-subversion case taking place in Georgia.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, and has portrayed his various legal troubles as an effort by Biden’s Democratic allies to hurt him politically.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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