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Harry Belafonte, singer and civil rights activist who popularized ‘Hava Nagila’ in the US, dies at 96

(New York Jewish Week) — Barrier-smashing singer, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, who once boasted of being “the most popular Jew in America” because of his rendition of a Hebrew classic, died Tuesday at his longtime Upper West Side home. He was 96.

The New York City native was the one of the first Black artists to achieve widespread commercial success in the United States, and while he was raised Catholic, his life frequently dovetailed with Jewish causes, values and people. Among Belafonte’s many Jewish connections — which included brokering a meeting between Nelson Mandela and Jewish leaders in 1989 — was his marriage to his Jewish second wife, dancer Julie Robinson. The couple, who were married from 1958 to 2004, raised two children, Gina and David.

In 2011, Belafonte revealed in his autobiography, “My Song: A Memoir” that his paternal grandfather was Jewish. Belafonte’s parents were both Jamaican immigrants: his mother, Melvine, was the child of a white mother from Scotland and a Black father, and his father, Harold George Bellanfanti, who later changed the family name, was the son of a Black mother and white Dutch-Jewish father. In his book, Belafonte describes his paternal grandfather, whom he never met, as “a white Dutch Jew who drifted over to the islands after chasing gold and diamonds, with no luck at all.”

Belafonte was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr., in Harlem on March 1, 1927. His father was largely absent during his childhood; his mother, who struggled with finding work, forged a relationship with a Jewish tailor who taught her how to mend garments. “That tailor gave me my first sense of kinship with Jews, which would deepen over time,” Belfonte wrote in his memoir.  He spent a portion of his childhood with his grandmother in Jamaica, but he returned to New York to attend George Washington High School in Washington Heights — where Alan Greenspan and Henry Kissinger were also educated — before dropping out.

Following a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Belafonte was bitten by the acting bug when, working as a janitor’s assistant, he was given a pair of tickets to the American Negro Theater as a gift. “It was there that the universe opened for me,” he told NPR in 2011. “I decided with any device I could possibly find, I wanted to stay in this place. What I had discovered in the theater was power: power to influence, power to know of others and know of other things.”

In the late 1940s, Belafonte enrolled in acting classes, where he met his lifelong friend Sidney Poitier. The impoverished pair would often share a single theater ticket, trading places at intermission. He also befriended Jewish actor Tony Curtis, writing in his memoir: “He lived in the Bronx with his family; why live downtown, he’d say, when he could live uptown for free? And who cared if they still greeted him up there as Bernie Schwartz?”

He and Curtis frequently went to parties together, he wrote, sometimes with the actress Elaine Stritch, “who swore more colorfully than any sailor I’d known,” and “the blunt Jewish comic” Bea Arthur, “who’d start matching wits with Elaine until the two of them had everyone in uncontrollable laughter.”

To pay for acting classes, Belafonte began dabbling in singing at nightclubs, and it was there that a true superstar was born. One of Belafonte’s early successes were his performances of the Hebrew dance hit “Hava Nagila” at the classic downtown folk club the Village Vanguard. His rendition, Belafonte joked to The New York Times in 2017, made him “the most popular Jew in America.”

In that same interview, Belafonte recalled the tough uptown streets of his childhood, and how he was drawn to the fast money his uncle’s number-running business earned. “Everybody in that world were role models in how to survive, how to be tough, how to get through the city, how to con, the daily encounters,” he said. “But my mother saw to it that unless I wanted to live life absent of testicles, she wasn’t going to have me follow her brother Lenny. Somewhere in there is a Sholem Aleichem — a rich story to be told of the lore of that time.”

With his 1953 breakthrough album, “Calypso” — which included his most iconic work, “The Banana Boat Song” — Belafonte “almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music,” according to The New York Times’ obituary. “Calypso” climbed to the top of the Billboard album chart shortly after its release and stayed there for 31 weeks; it is reported to be the first album by a solo artist to sell more than a million copies. By 1959 he was the most highly-paid Black performer in history, according to the Times.

Known around the world as the “King of Calypso,” Belafonte recorded and performed a wide range of global and folk classics throughout his wide-ranging musical career — Jewish standards among them. In 1959, he performed “Hine Ma Tov” in England, with what appears to be an Israeli military choir; his 1963 album, “Streets I Have Walked,” includes a rendition of “Erev Shel Shoshanim” (“Evening of Roses”), a popular Jewish wedding song.

Belafonte’s greatest passion, however, was neither acting nor singing — it was civil rights activism. There, too, he worked closely with many Jewish activists, as part of the historic Black-Jewish civil rights alliance of the 1950s and 1960s. But, as he recalled in his memoir, it was racism delivered by a Jewish TV executive that first inspired him to take on racial segregation in the United States.

The executive, a Jew from Montreal named Charles Revson, asked Belafonte to stop hosting white dancers on his performance show, citing the preferences of Southern viewers. Belafonte said he rejected the instruction and let Revson cancel the show. He realized, he wrote, that TV could only reflect societal attitudes, not change them. “To change the culture you had to change the country,” he concluded.

Through his civil rights activism, Bellafonte befriended Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956; the pair remained close until King’s assassination in 1968. “My apartment was a retreat for him,” Belafonte told NPR of King and his 21-room apartment in 2008. “He had his own entrance, his own kitchen. The home became, for him, a place where he could think and reside, take his shoes off, have his collar open and be him.”

Belafonte helped provide the seed money to launch the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and he was one of the lead fundraisers for that organization and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was “deeply involved” in the 1963 March on Washington and helped fund the Freedom Rides.

Belafonte’s commitment to social justice endured throughout his long life and career. In the 1980s, he helped organize the Live Aid concert, and he served as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador after Jewish entertainer Danny Kaye pioneered the role. He was also a co-chairman of the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017, along with Gloria Steinem, though ill health kept him from attending.

Though primarily famous for his singing, Belafonte continued to make movies throughout his career; in 1970 he produced and co-starred in “The Angel Levine” alongside the original “Fiddler on the Roof” star Zero Mostel. Based on a story by Bernard Malamud, Belafonte starred as the titular Jewish angel. (The “project had a sociopolitical edge,” the Times noted, as the entertainer’s Harry Belafonte Enterprises hired 15 Black and Hispanic apprentices to work on the film’s crew.)

The cause of Belafonte’s death was congestive heart failure. He is survived by his two children with Robinson; the two children he had with his first wife Marguerite Byrd, Adrienne Biesemeyer and Shari Belafonte; and eight grandchildren. After divorcing Robinson in 2004, he married photographer Pamela Frank in 2008; Frank also survives him, along with stepchildren Sarah Frank and Lindsey Frank and three step-grandchildren.

“There’s just so much left that’s in my basket of possibilities,” Belafonte told The New York Times ahead of his 90th birthday in 2017. “I’m not as young as I feel, or as young as I would consider myself to be. The 90 figure is a blur. But I do know that if there’s anything left for me to do, I had best hurry up and do it, because time is not an ally.”

The post Harry Belafonte, singer and civil rights activist who popularized ‘Hava Nagila’ in the US, dies at 96 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 


If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

The post Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism first appeared on

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

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