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Behind the Aegis

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Nicola Sturgeon: Rising antisemitism risks a return to Auschwitz

The Holocaust did not begin in Nazi concentration camps but when ordinary people started turning a blind eye to what was happening and so, with antisemitism once again rearing its head, it is incumbent on all of us to challenge hatred and division wherever we find it, writes First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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Sadly, we live in a world today where antisemitism has reared its head again and in which racism, prejudice, intolerance and hatred of all kinds are all too present. This has most recently been seen in the tragic events at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week.

While the Holocaust was perpetrated by the Nazi regime, it was facilitated by thousands of ordinary people who went along with what was happening and perhaps turned a blind eye. Of course, the Holocaust didn’t start in Auschwitz – it started in the everyday antisemitism and discrimination which was allowed to flourish at the time. What happened under the Nazis, and in the recent events in Pittsburgh, are at the end of a spectrum which begins with allowing racism, prejudice and hatred to spread in society.

One of the most important lessons I took from the visit is that we should not be a bystander in our everyday lives – and not turn a blind eye – to prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and racism. It is incumbent on all of us to think about what we can do to confront and challenge hatred and division wherever we find it.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Nov 3, 2018, 05:39 AM (5 replies)

The Roots of American Anti-Semitism

Studies of genocide show that those who kill their neighbors must dehumanize them before such attacks are widely accepted. In America, white Americans had been dehumanizing blacks and unleashing violence on black bodies for 300 years before the rise of the re-formed Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, when the organized targeting of Jews by hate movements began. The small population of Jews who lived in America throughout the 17th, 18th, and most of the 19th centuries did so in an environment of relative tolerance, backed by the assurance of the letter written by President George Washington, a slave owner, to the Hebrew Congregations of Rhode Island, stating that “the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Yet while American Jews avoided direct attack by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and 1930s, anti-Semitism itself was beginning to change as a small group of anti-Semitic radicals within the Klan moved from passivity to aggression, giving rise to a native-born American anti-Semitic movement whose radical ideology helped inspire the murder of 11 congregants at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Auto tycoon Henry Ford played a key role in this transformation. Through his widely circulated Dearborn Independent, Ford popularized alarming slurs against the Jewish people, borrowing from the fraudulent and anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion to accuse Jews of a secret, global financial conspiracy to undermine the United States and the western world.

At the same time, a man who helped publish Ford’s periodical, William J. Cameron, became interested in and promoted a school of pseudoscientific anthropological thought that repositioned Jews in the history of Judeo-Christianity. Cameron argued that the 10 missing groups from the lost tribes of the House of Israel (Israel’s Northern Kingdom), upon being overcome by the Assyrians, fled to the Caucasus, and populated that region. The remaining two tribes of Israel, the so-called House of Judah, eventually migrated to and settled in Europe. The latter were the true chosen people: Anglo-Europeans. European Jews, those who had been immigrating to America in droves in the three decades before, were in fact descendants of Mongol-Turkic Khazars.

This strange stew of white supremacy, anti-Jewish conspiracy baiting, and racialized anthropology—which began overseas as British-Israelism, and morphed in the United States into Anglo-Israelism—is central to the white nationalist ideology that continues to pursue and enact violence against Jewish targets. It is an ideology that, even if he may not realize it, helped fuel Robert Bowers’ rage against Jews.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Nov 2, 2018, 06:00 AM (3 replies)

Anti-Semitism Is a Conspiracy Theory

The mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill is believed to be the worst single attack on American Jews in our history. That’s grim—it’s 2018, a hundred years after the lynching of Leo Frank and 75 after the near extermination in Europe. Worse is the foreboding that the pulse of anti-Semitism—the harassment and violence that have begun again in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, and escalated to mass murder in France, Belgium, and Denmark—have begun to reverberate here. As Jews continually appear as the most frequent targets of religious hate crimes, the slaughter in Squirrel Hill seems to punctuate a foregone conclusion.

To be sure, we’ve seen flares—in L.A. in 1999, Seattle in 2006, and Kansas in 2014. The enemies of liberal democracy, who seek to destroy it in a revolutionary conflagration, always feel an urgency and ecstasy in purging the Jews. Yet with the accelerating entropy of our politics under Donald Trump—an American president who makes speeches about corrupt “globalists” who put America second—for many Squirrel Hill feels different. Indeed, it is just one of three attempted or successful white-supremacist mass murders in the last two weeks.

One consequence of the increase in militancy and growing sense of peril is that it seems to be waking people up to the fact that anti-Semitism is not the same as other forms of racial or religious bigotry. Even in a country where the apogee of exploitative racism—slavery, of African-Americans—eclipses our historical awareness of the hysterical hatreds of Europe, it has become difficult to miss that anti-Semitism is something else. It is a racist conspiracy theory, and that drives it to a very different end—the salvationist violence of mass murder and genocide.

There is a sudden interest in the conspiratorial quality of anti-Jewishness among people in the center and on the left as they watch the growing obsession on the right with George Soros and “white genocide.” But becoming more aware of conspiracism is not the same as understanding it. “Anti-semitism [sic] is the source code for almost every form of religious and racial bigotry,” announced Huffington Post’s editor in chief, Lydia Polgreen, in a heartfelt tweet. “It’s the hideous seed from which hatred grows.” Poignant, but wrong. While all forms of racism share a common ancestor in xenophobia, anti-Semitism evolved in a religious struggle for survival and has followed a distinct path.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Nov 2, 2018, 05:50 AM (0 replies)

How the rise of conspiracy theory politics emboldens anti-Semitism

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Anti-Semitism is an ancient form of hate, stretching back for millennia and leaving ghettos, pogroms, and mass industrialized murder in its wake. And the language of the anti-Semitism of the Wannsee Conference is being repeated today, on 4chan and by far-right mayoral candidates alike.

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Anti-Semitism in America is a form of hate, but its motivations aren’t identical to other forms of prejudice.

For example, while anti-black racism or white supremacy revolve around on the (wrong) idea that black people or nonwhites are inferior, anti-Semitism, as practiced by many of its adherents today from a number of political and social backgrounds, is based on the idea that Jewish people have too much power, or even that Jewish people are secretly in charge — of the government, of culture, of the world in its entirety.

I spoke with Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and an expert on far-right white supremacist organizations. “In general, racism against people of color tends to denigrate their abilities or ascribe criminality to them,” Beirich told me. “With Jewish people, it is more often the case that they are seen as nefarious connivers who engage in activities to harm the majority population, meaning white people, by bringing in nonwhite immigrants or refugees.”

The idea that Jewish people, or Jews in general, hold secret power over everyone else is widespread among anti-Semites. Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan (himself deeply anti-Semitic) put his views bluntly in February of this year: “The Jews have control over those agencies of government. When you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.” (Anti-Semitism on the left has its own very worrying history and legacy.)

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Nov 2, 2018, 05:43 AM (2 replies)

Pittsburgh shooting: Jewish medics helped to save synagogue gunman's life

Robert Bowers was shouting about 'killing Jewish people' while being treated by the doctors

Jewish doctors and medical staff helped to save the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s life, it has been revealed.

Eleven people were killed and six others wounded after a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Jewish neighbourhood of Squirrel Hill on Saturday.

Authorities made clear they believed the attack was motivated by religious hatred and 46-year-old Robert Bowers has been charged in connection with the incident.

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Nov 1, 2018, 02:35 AM (3 replies)

Pittsburgh: Hero Dr Jerry Rabinowitz died rushing into gunfire at synagogue to help the wounded

Dr Jerry Rabinowitz, one of the victims in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend, has been hailed for helping the wounded in his final moments.

The 66-year-old doctor is one of 11 people killed in an apparent antisemitic attack targeting the Tree of Life, a synagogue located in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood. As a shooter opened fire on the community’s weekly Saturday service, he reportedly rushed to help those injured, according to his nephew, Avisahi Ostrin, who wrote about the tragedy in a public Facebook post.

“In addition to being the president of the congregation, he was a doctor, a healer,” Mr Ostrin wrote on Sunday. “I just learned a short while ago that although the shooter travelled within the building looking for victims, Uncle Jerry wasn’t killed in the basement of the building where the congregation was Davening [praying], he was shot outside the room. Why? Because when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor.”

He added, “That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.”

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Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Nov 1, 2018, 02:33 AM (12 replies)
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