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OPINION: Anti-Semitism, Ilhan Omar, Curtis Sittenfeld, and Seth Meyers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congresswoman representing Minnesota’s 5th district, took office in January 2019.  She received media attention for being the first Somali-American and one of the first—along with fellow freshman Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib—Muslim women to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The following month she received media attention for a very different reason: a series of anti-Semitic tweets.  On November 16, 2012 Omar had tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” 

The tweet employed the anti-Semitic trope of Jews using magic powers to dominate the world. Shortly after Omar took office, The New York Times writer Bari Weiss penned a column explaining why she, as an American Jew, took offense at Omar’s tweet and how the conspiracy theory of Jews as hypnotic puppeteers has a painful and deadly history.

In response to Weiss’ criticism, Omar tweeted: “That statement came in the context of the Gaza War.  It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy in disavowing the anti-Semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, compared Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic trope to Iowa’s Republican Congressman Steve King’s comment to The New York Times expressing befuddlement that white nationalism and white supremacy are considered offensive.

On February 10, journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted: “Equating @IlhanMN [and] @RashidaTlaib’s criticism of Israel to Steve King’s long defense of white supremacy is obscene (McCarthy said it’s worse).  In the U[.]S[.], we’re allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments. The GOP House Leader’s priorities are warped.”In response, Omar tweeted: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” (a slang reference to hundred-dollar bills).

Batya Ungar-Sargon, Opinion Editor for the Jewish newspaper The Forward, joined the conversation by tweeting: “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”

Omar replied: “AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee]!”

Reading these tweets was painful for me.  As an American Jew and a Millennial, I’ve always taken for granted the acceptance and security I experience living in the United States, a privilege rarely given to Jews throughout history and throughout the world.  Omar’s tweets employed anti-Semitic tropes of Jews using money to control the government. This was the first time I experienced an elected U.S. official publicly using hate speech directed at a minority to which I belonged.

Following public outcry, Omar deleted the offensive tweets and issued an apology the next day: “Anti-Semitism is real[,] and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.  My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.  At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA[,] or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

In some ways, I’m more offended by Omar’s apologies than by her initial statements.  While I would like to believe her apologies were genuine, they don’t seem plausible. Omar claimed ignorance.  She insisted she wasn’t aware her statements were cloaked in anti-Semitic tropes. But it seems far-fetched to believe it’s merely a coincidence that she unknowingly used classic anti-Semitic notions when tweeting about Israel, employing the same ugly stereotypes anti-Semites have used throughout history.  Plus, her AIPAC tweet was in direct response to Ungar-Sargon’s tweet that blatantly called out Omar for anti-Semitism. How can she claim she had no idea she was spewing anti-Semitic jabs when one of her controversial remarks was in response to being alerted to the anti-Semitic nature of her previous remarks?  

The fact that she didn’t know—or claimed not to have known—she was using hate speech is appalling.  For example, if I as a straight person used the three-letter f-word in reference to the LGBTQ community and then claimed I didn’t know it was offensive, that level of ignorance would be comical.  It would also be disgusting because it means I’m so accustomed to communicating with hate speech that I don’t even see anything wrong with it or comprehend how hurtful it can be to others.       

Omar insisted that criticisms of AIPAC should not be confused with anti-Semitism.  However, when you mix traditional anti-Semitic tropes with your criticism of AIPAC, the word AIPAC becomes a dog-whistle for the word Jews.

Another reason Omar’s apologies seemed disingenuous was because she continued using anti-Semitic tropes.  In March, when questioned about the Twitter controversy at a bookstore event in Washington, DC, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” intimating the anti-Semitic idea that Jews possess dual-loyalty, which is inherently suspect of our devotion to America.  This time Omar did not apologize.

Whenever a person makes anti-Semitic remarks, it’s hurtful.  When a person in a position of power makes anti-Semitic remarks, it’s scary.  I wish Omar would stop talking about us.

In April, as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw that Curtis Sittenfeld, one of my favorite authors and a resident of Minnesota, posted: “#IStandWithIlhan and I’m glad [and] proud she’s my congresswoman.”  The post stunned me and also really bothered me. To be fair, I don’t think Sittenfeld was endorsing the use of anti-Semitic tropes. In the same post, Sittenfeld recommended a documentary about Omar that explores “the adversity she’s overcome as a woman and refugee.”  While it seemed that Sittenfeld’s support of the congresswoman was based on her ambition and overcoming of adversity, she was nonetheless advocating for someone who traffics in anti-Semitism. 

At first, I thought what bothered me about Sittenfeld’s post was that someone I admired was turning a blind eye to incidents that caused me pain.  But then I realized that what bothered me was something more complex. Sittenfeld wasn’t the target of Omar’s bigotry; I was. Sittenfeld is not Jewish, and she made no mention of Omar’s anti-Semitic comments in her post, seeming to tacitly give Omar a pass for her hateful rhetoric.  What bothered me was someone outside of the targeted minority arbitrating what level of anti-Semitism is considered passable.  

That uncomfortable feeling returned on May 8th when late night talk show host Seth Meyers engaged in a testy argument with his guest Meghan McCain about Omar’s tweets.  Three days earlier during an appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, roundtable guests were quick to place blame for the synagogue shooting in Poway, CA on President Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric.  McCain pointed out that anti-Semitic rhetoric exists on both sides of the political aisle and referred to Omar’s tweets as an example.

Meyers repeatedly asked McCain if she stood by her statement from the previous week about Omar’s tweets being anti-Semitic.  McCain confirmed she stood by her statement, saying that she will call out anti-Semitism when she sees it. Meyers urged McCain to reconsider, saying that Omar has apologized and has received death threats and that as one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, she brings a different point of view to which people should listen.

I felt physically sick.  It was painful to listen to a non-Jew publicly make excuses for anti-Semitic rhetoric, and to essentially advocate, as Sittenfeld had, that it was passable.

What scares me more than people who use anti-Semitic rhetoric is non-Jews who use public platforms to argue that anti-Semitic rhetoric is acceptable. It’s these enablers that make anti-Semitism mainstream instead of a fringe viewpoint, giving strength and motion to a dangerous ideology.

When seemingly innocuous celebrities align themselves with politicians who spout bigotry, it is time for the Jewish community to come together and stand against hatred.

The controversy surrounding Omar’s tweets was bookended by synagogue shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue and Chabad of Poway, harsh reminders that anti-Semitism doesn’t just exist on Twitter, it is a real and deadly threat from one coast of the United States to the other.  

German film director Werner Herzog recently tweeted:

“Dear America: You are waking up as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches.


aliza

About the Author: Aliza Epstein is a native of the Washington, DC area and currently lives in Arlington, VA.  She works as a non-profit manager.


Defining Anti-Semitism

The first step of addressing any challenge is defining it.  But anti-Semitism is more than a challenge. It’s a direct threat rather than an abstract one – as our people were sadly reminded last week.

The Threat of Anti-Semitism is Not New

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), in downtown DC, calls it “the longest hatred.”  The museum continues by defining it as a “prejudice against or hatred of Jews” and that the plague of anti-Semitism has sickened “the world for more than 2,000 years.”

The USHMM definition is fairly aligned to the Webster’s Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism:  hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.

The threat of anti-Semitism isn’t a Jewish problem.  It’s a human problem. Hate is hate. When one people are marginalized or threatened, all people are marginalized and threatened.  This isn’t quite intersectionality – it’s logic.

As the prominent Lutheran German Pastor Martin Niemöller said, as a vocal critic to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, in his post-World War II remarks:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Niemöller was not a perfect person.  No man (or woman or non-binary individual) is perfect.  Niemöller was critical of his own culpability as a Christian for his earlier support for Hitler, but his example as a leader is an important one for today’s day and age.  Let us not forget that if we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat it.

Lessons from the Tree of Life Synagogue

We have a lot to learn from the tragedy that sunk all of our hearts on Saturday, October 27 in the steel city.  The lessons must be for all people – not just the Jewish people.  To me, the most important lesson that we must take as Americans and as Jewish-Americans is to equally agree on a definition of anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is a “prejudice against or hatred of Jews” and it is “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”  But it is also more than that…

I personally accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition”.  As an American, the United States is a party to this non-legally binding working definition and as an American, I accept my country’s definition of anti-Semitism as,

“A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

IHRA and the U.S. describe a number of manifestations of anti-Semitism online, which may include but is not limited to “targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong.’ It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.”

The residents of Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life Synagogue may have never thought that such an evil could ever befall them.  They are not to blame for anything that they did or did not do for the evil of the shooter – whose name is not worth repeating. The residents of the DMV should also never think that such evil will not befall our torn community.  

Anti-Semitism Persists 

In the few days alone since the tragedy of Pittsburgh, two incidents of anti-Semitism in our community bring pain to my heart.

On Monday, October 29 – just two days after the shooting – a DC public high school found a swastika sticker affixed to a bathroom wall.  This same school found swastika graffiti on a bathroom wall just one year ago.  As noted, if we do not learn from history, we’re bound to repeat it. Unfortunately, these acts at the DC school are not alone.  Although the most recent swastika was found two days after the Pittsburgh attack, another swastika was found drawn on a classroom desk at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, MD just two days prior to the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.  An analysis from The Washington Post found three dozen bias incidents in Montgomery County schools alone in the 2016-2017 school year.

Despite it All, We Pursue Peace 

As Jews, I suspect those reading this article and those who attend GatherDC programming believe – like me – in the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam.   These acts of hatred are new cracks in the fractured and broken world in which we live. As Jews, we spend every day looking to repair the world.  I for one will do what I can to double down in my efforts to give my time, my creativity, and my tzedakah to do my small part to repair the world.  I hope you will join me. You can say thank you to a stranger, hold the elevator or front door open for a neighbor, smile at someone that looks different than you, or donate to a charity that is meaningful to you.

Showing up for Shabbat 

I spent my Shabbat before the shooting with friends and family at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 2239 community shabbat with Rabbi Miller.  I spent my Shabbat after the shooting with friends and family at Sixth & I’s Solidarity Shabbat with Rabbis Shira and Jesse.

I decided to #ShowUpForShabbat. I am committing myself to peace, justice, love, and a desire to pray for those who currently have darkness in their hearts towards Jews – or any other people – to question their own hate and replace it with understanding and light.  The Jewish people make up only 2% of the American population and approximately 0.2% of global citizenry. But, I do hope that we can be – in these dark days – a light unto the nations to guide all people to a better understanding of who we are as a people and what we are as a religion. Let us all take our first step into that light by agreeing to the same definition of anti-Semitism, so we as a generation can eliminate it so our children do not need to experience the pain that we all feel this week.

 

 

About the Author: Jason Langsner is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Jason has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004, and volunteers for several Jewish organizations including B’nai Brith International. He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world. When not blogging, he can often be found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood, or riding around DC area bike trails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

The Washington Post Takes Anti-Semitism Mainstream

If you aren’t Jewish, then don’t date Jewish men, is what The Washington Post’recent piece called “I am tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion” insinuates.

Author Carey Purcell’s incomprehensible conclusion surrounding her failed dating experiences takes Jew-bashing tropes mainstream.

Particularly, in a time of rising anti-Semitism, when DC Councilman Trayon White said that the Jews controlled the weather and Louis Farrakhan espoused anti-Semitism at a recent speech, the widely-read Washington Post now contributes to the problem.  

Purcell laments the fact that her two Jewish boyfriends left her after many years, claiming that it was because she was not Jewish.

“Over almost seven years and two serious relationships with Jewish men who at first said religion didn’t matter—and then backtracked and decided it did—I’ve optimistically begun interfaith relationships with an open mind twice, only to become the last woman these men dated before settling down with a nice Jewish girl. I can now say with certainty I am tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion.”

Despite her sample size – of two – Purcell makes assumptions about Jewish men writ large, promoting broad stereotypes and generalizations which further prejudice against all Jews—ironic considering how many times Purcell writes that she understands a great deal about Judaism.

In fact, Purcell gives the very evidence undermining all of her credibility in the article itself: almost 44% of Jews have a non-Jewish spouse, and that number is rising, according to Pew Research. Clearly a large portion of Jewish men do not, in fact, have a problem marrying non-Jews, as Purcell would try to make you believe. As she herself outlines, the evidence shows that the problem isn’t Jewish men, but in fact Ms. Purcell. And let’s be honest: it’s not hard to see why she hasn’t found Mr. Right.

Purcell again undermines her claim:

“Not being Jewish was not the official reason either of these relationships ended. There were other problems – money, careers, and plans for the future.”

None of those problems are small, and Purcell’s conclusion to pin the ultimate failing of the relationship on religion is unsubstantiated – and at the very least underscores her inability to look at a relationship as the sum of its parts. However, she has no problem labelling all Jewish men as the sum of her small experience dating.

Moreover, Purcell seems to take issue with the fact that her boyfriends might have changed their minds about not caring about their religious differences…despite offering no good proof of this other than an angry outburst from her ex’s mother and the fact that her exes went on to marry “nice Jewish girls.”

But even if one was to somehow assume Purcell’s analysis was not entirely off-base: is she trying to say that two people in a serious and committed relationship aren’t allowed to change their views and grow over time?

Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship understands that two people either grow together, or grow apart.

Purcell writes that, “These [religious differences] issues weren’t there at first, but they started to appear after some time had passed and we were already in love,” as if to lead the reader to believe that her exes purposefully led her astray, despite the fact that these so-called “rebellious” phases inexplicably endured multiple years, and many serious conversations.

Even more offensive, Purcell frequently mentions how much she knows about Judaism and how much she respects it, but ends the piece by stating her resolve to create a cocktail named “A Jewish Man’s Rebellion,” complete with a bacon garnish.

Perhaps Purcell thought she was being clever and biting with the intent to include the non-kosher food on such a garnish, but again her conclusions were spiteful and misguided.

There is a silver lining to her piece, though. Ms. Purcell will finally get what she wants: she won’t have to worry about dating another Jewish man.

 

 

About the Author: Idalia Friedson lives in works in DC. In her free time, she enjoys doing Krav Maga, singing too loudly, and attending Gather DC’s Wednesday night learning group with Rabbi Aaron Potek.

 

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

From K Street to the Knesset – Pt 2:  Addressing Anti-Semitism at Home and Abroad

Spring has sprung.

It has come in like a lion. But I hope that it goes out like a lamb. And I’m not talking about the weather. Well, kind of…

On Friday, March 16, an elected official from DC’s Council serving the residents of Ward 8, made a regrettable statement.  This was not his first. His subsequent apologies rang with a sense of sorrow. They spoke of regret. They addressed a need to move forward and to use the remarks as a learning experience.

In echoing anti-Semitic tropes from generations ago, Councilmember Trayon White, said in a Facebook Live video, Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation.  And DC keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

As snow flurries fell on DC on last Friday morning, Councilmember White’s remarks opened up a blizzard of a reaction from inside and outside of the District.

DCcouncil.us serves as the online and official home for our city’s legislative body.  The website describes the council as,

the central and chief policy-making body for the District of Columbia” and it defines the mission of the body, “to provide strong, innovative and effective leadership for the benefit of residents across the city.

The statements of Councilmember White are not the official position of the DC Government.  Our city does not believe that the Jews control the weather.  The comments are not policy. But, policy is shaped by policymakers in a representative democracy.  And this comment certainly did not represent “effective leadership for the benefit of [Jewish] residents across the city.”

We’ve all made regrettable statements.  Facebook is full of them. Few can point to a perfect record of speaking on and off-the-record.  But this “lion” of a comment by an elected official in his private time on a social media channel was not a one-off remark.  On February 27, Councilmember White in his official capacity – at a hearing that included Mayor Muriel Bowser – asked the President of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC):

“There’s this whole concept with the Rothschilds — control the World Bank, as we all know — infusing dollars into major cities.  They really pretty much control the federal government, and now they have this concept called resilient cities in which they are using their money and influence into local cities.  How does this influence this? Because it’s really about infrastructure and climate control. What does this have to do with UDC? Have they put money into UDC? What’s the relationship between the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers?”

Councilmember White’s remarks implied that wealthy Jewish families or the Jewish people control the weather, the Federal Government, international development, and local government.

In one of his follow-up messages from the Facebook remark, he said, “I want to apologize to the Jewish Community and anyone I have offended.  The Jewish community have been allies with me in my journey to help people. I did not intend to be Anti-Semitic, and I see I should have said that after learning from my colleagues,” on Instagram in a written statement from March 18.

Since the initial remark was made, and the blizzard of media and communal backlash began, Councilmember White has held meetings with several Jewish Metropolitan Washington communal groups, including Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

JUFJ said:

Councilmember White’s words were wrong – even though they weren’t made with malice. That is why we have been working with Councilmember White, mostly behind the scenes, to support what our Jewish tradition calls teshuvah: a process of repentance, apology, learning, and change.”

JCRC will be working with Councilmember White and they have a commitment from him to join them for a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and to dialogue with Holocaust survivors.  In a public statement, they said that

“the JCRC takes Councilmember White’s comments very seriously, and will continue working to ensure that both he and his colleagues on the DC Council not only have heightened understanding of anti-Semitism but also heightened vigilance and sensitivity in responding unequivocally when they hear it from others.”

During this same week where these regrettable statements were made in the United States’ capital city, a dialogue was occurring in the capital city of the Jewish State.  The Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism took place in Jerusalem from March 16-21.  The theme of the forum was “United to Stop Hate.”  And that is what we must do. We, as a Jewish community, must reach out to other communities to better educate them about the Jewish experience of today and of generations’ past.

An Israeli historian on the Holocaust, Yehuda Bauer, said at the conference in Jerusalem that, “we have to realize that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem but a problem of the societies in which it rises. It’s a cancer which eats the societies in which it comes up.”

Perhaps, now that Gather the Jews is called GatherDC, we can also play a role in gathering non-Jewish groups of 20s and 30s to dialogue and serve our communities together.  We have much to learn about all forms of hate.  And we collectively can stand together to combat all forms of hatred in any and all way that its darkness manifests itself.  From here, we can hope that this spring that came in with the roar of a lion can end with the gentle nature of the lamb.

 

 

 

About the Author: Jason Langsner is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Jason has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004.  He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world. When not blogging, he can often by found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood with his Jewish dog, Shekels, or riding around DC area bike trails.

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Anti-Semitism & Hate Defy Logic in the Premier League

Benayoun playing for West Ham United.

After this article was published on GTJ, DC Sports Beat approached Jon for an interview.  You can listen to his interview here.

In the past few weeks, the illogical nature of anti-Semitism was put on full display in two separate incidents in which fans of the Tottenham Hotspurs were the recipients of mindless hatred.  Why was Tottenham targeted?  It’s not just because they have a long history of Jewish ownership, but that they are also extremely close to the orthodox community in London. The history of anti-Semitism against the Hotspurs is a long one; it begins with other teams calling them the “Yids” as a derogatory term to insult their supporters.  In response, Tottenham fans banded together to turn an insult into a positive by calling themselves the “Yid Army.”  Other groups, with either no association with the club or who are Jewish but fans of rival clubs, feel adopting this word just eggs on other racist fans.

 To summarize the two incidents:

  • In Italy, fans of the Lazio team recently stabbed two Tottenham fans.  The team has been fined in the past for its fans’ anti-Semitic actions according to NBC sports, and has a long history of racist behavior.
  • At a recent game between West Ham United and the Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham fans were cheering for Hitler, complimenting the Lazio club on the recent stabbing, and making other anti-Semitic remarks.

The Lazio club is known for these types of incidents, but it’s not surprising that an Italian club- where many supporters idolize Mussolini- would hate Jews. The events at the recent English Premier League game are both troubling and devoid of any logic.  Initially, these news stories would lead someone to believe that anti-Semitism is making a reoccurrence to a dark age in soccer when Jews were constantly in the bull’s eye of the hatred of some clubs.  However, at least one author would say it never left.  On top of the obvious reason that anti-Semitism, along with all types of racism in this world, is never acceptable, the other reasons below show the ridiculousness of these events:

  • One of the starters of West Ham is a well respected Israeli (and Jew) named  Yossi Benayoun. The West Ham fans are basically insulting one of their own in their mindless hatred.  Benayoun was obviously dismayed by the recent chants.  Also, one of their owners, David Gold, is Jewish. To the club’s credit, they are promising to ban for life any individual they can find who was involved with the chant.
  • Two of the other biggest clubs in the league, Manchester United (Malcolm Glazer) and Chelsea (Roman Abramovich), have major owners who are Jewish.
  • Why on earth would the fans of any London team ever cheer for Hitler?  This would be like the NY Giants cheering Al-Qaeda against the Redskins.

While the major sports in the US have their own moments of absurdity ranging from Eagles fans booing Santa Claus to rare tragic violence at baseball games, these are generally instances of just bad apples. The hive-mind where racism is accepted and on full display in the US sporting world doesn’t exist.  Even when Joel Ward, a forward for the Washington Capitals, was sent a sizable number of racist tweets from Boston Bruin fans, it was immediately condemned across the NHL and in no way was it an organized event.  The closest thing we have in the US has been the controversy over Ole Miss, much of it brilliantly documented in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about football, racism, and integration in the 1960s.  In the past, the mascot (now retired) was a confederate soldier and they played Dixie at official school functions (a medley that included Dixie was discounted in 2009).

Sports can provide the opportunity for sheer unexpected excitement and gut punches.  It can also bring out the best in humanity.  Hopefully, shining a bright light on this awful chapter in European soccer allows it to solve its problems of the past and return the focus to a sport that so much of the world loves.

Snoop Dog a Member of the Tribe? – Gather the News – 10/17

Oh a gathering we will go…

  • David Meir Grossman of Jewcy discusses Rick Ross’ decision to title his latest album The Black Bar Mitzvah.
  • Is Snoop interested in becoming one of the chosen people?  We’re not sure, but in a new commercial for Hot Pockets he rocks a blinged out Star of David.