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What Biden Didn’t Say About Antisemitism

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

JNS.orgU.S. President Joe Biden’s speech on May 7 at the U.S. Capitol, during which he eloquently revisited Nazi Germany’s journey from racial laws discriminating against Jews to outright genocide, demonstrating the parallels with today’s febrile situation along the way, struck all the right notes.

And that, perhaps, was the problem.

While I applauded pretty much every word that I heard, what frustrated me was that there was nothing new. True, it’s reassuring that an American president understands what the Holocaust was, how it was carried out and how it still continues to impact Jewish communities. As Biden said, “[B]y the time the war ended, 6 million Jews—one out of every three Jews in the entire world—were murdered.” Nearly 80 years on from the victory over Nazi Germany, and despite the existence of a Jewish state and an unprecedented flowering of Jewish communities in many of the world’s democracies, there are still fewer Jews now than there were before Hitler embarked on his program of slaughter. And as Biden’s speech indicated, what was in relative terms a post-war “Golden Age” is now over.

That was why I’d hoped I would hear something new, something different. But in the end, even if Biden spoke movingly, his words were safe and, for most Americans, non-controversial. Much of the closing part of his speech was given to a memoir of Tom Lantos, the late California congressional representative and a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who once worked on Biden’s staff. Lantos’s story is certainly inspiring, but an affectionate review of his life isn’t going to explain or deter the antisemitic wave we are facing.

On the pro-Hamas protests that have roiled U.S. campuses, again Biden correctly depicted the slogans and signs on display as “despicable.” Yet there was precious little detail in the speech about how to confront this problem, save for acknowledgement of truths that are widely recognized, at least among Jews (“We know hate never goes away, it only hides”), and a few bland clichés (“We also know what stops hate. One thing: all of us.”)

Any plaudits that Biden earned from American Jews were quickly lost in the days that followed the speech. As Israeli troops prepared for an assault on Rafah, the last bastion of Hamas in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, Biden announced a suspension of key weapons deliveries to the Israel Defense Forces in a bid to force a ceasefire. For many Jews, including the huge number who say they would never vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances, Biden’s decision to hand the Hamas rapists and murderers an operational advantage felt like the worst betrayal. Contrasting his speech at the Capitol with the subsequent interview he gave to CNN’s Erin Burnett, it was tempting to conclude that the kinds of Jews that Biden identifies with are those who stoically accept their fate while believing that there is sufficient goodness among the wider population to alleviate their plight. But fighting back? Seeking to destroy irredeemable enemies before they destroy us? That, it would seem, is a step too far.

What could Biden have said that he didn’t say on the day? What aspects of the current surge of antisemitism would have convinced a besieged Jewish community that the leader of the free world is not just an ally, but someone who fundamentally grasps the nature of contemporary threats on multiple fronts?

There was something of a clue in the middle of his speech, when Biden referred to the “ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people off the face of the earth.” It was this observation that needed expanding because it gets to the heart of the issue. For while the basic impulse here hasn’t changed over the centuries, the difference today lies with the bearers of this message. Pockets of antisemitism remain on the far right and among certain Christians, but that problem can be contained. The existential threat now emanates from Red-Green alliance of Islamists and the far left—this was what Biden should have identified. But he didn’t.

For this coalition, the existence of a Jewish state is the vehicle through which the “ancient desire” described by Biden manifests. Hence, the presentation is different. Whereas Jews were once portrayed as obstacles to spiritual redemption—a cursed people whose existence, as St. Augustine famously argued, is an example of what happens when Christ is rejected—in our contemporary secular world, Jews are obstacles to the realization of national and social justice, universalist goals that have been fatally compromised by Jewish particularism. Yet again, Jews are scorning both the messenger and the message, so yet again, they must suffer for it.

In the pro-Hamas encampments that have sprung up on college campuses across the United States, as well as in Europe and Australia, ancient cries of “Death to the Jews” and other epithets have been heard, but these have been overshadowed by sloganeering deemed progressive and enlightened: “Free Palestine,” “From the River to the Sea,” “Globalize the Intifada” and so on. The immediate targets are not largely defenseless Jewish communities but the denizens of a nation-state armed to the teeth. Jews outside the territory of Israel who denounce the Jewish state are, for the time being anyway, welcome allies, but the remainder—90%, more or less, of the world’s Jews—are beyond the pale for as long as they support the State of Israel.

What Hamas and its Western allies are asking us to endorse is—in the memorable phrase of the 2006 conference in Tehran staged by the Iranian regime—the vision of a “World Without Zionism.” “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury, any Islamic leader who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world,” the then-president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared at the time. For the enemies of the Jews, therefore, this is a zero-sum game: us or them. And that idea has now been globalized, resulting in the transfer of Iranian regime slogans to our campuses and, increasingly, our city streets, our workplaces and all the other locations where we gather to get on with our lives.

That is the challenge that Biden should have addressed.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“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.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

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 reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been 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 group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, 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!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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