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Behind the Aegis

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Europe gears up to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day

PARIS - As countries across Europe prepare for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, being commemorated on Friday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz spoke of his "specific responsibility" as a German to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

"I feel that I have a very specific responsibility," said Schulz at European Union headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, addressing a crowd of 500 parliamentarians, ambassadors and other guests at an event organized by the European Jewish Congress, "because what was decided at the so-called Wannsee Conference - the extermination of the Jewish people - was done in the name of the German people," Schulz said, referring to the meeting of Nazi officials in 1942 to decide on the "Final Solution."

"The German people of today is not guilty [of the Holocaust], but responsible for keeping the memory alive," he said. "For me, this means that whoever is representing the German nation has one important duty - to take into account our responsibility for the Jews in the world."

Schulz said he had decided that the international day of commemoration, which was established six years ago by the UN General Assembly, will become an official annual event of the European Parliament from now on. The date, January 27, is the same day in 1945 that the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp was liberated by Soviet forces.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Jan 27, 2012, 04:41 AM (3 replies)

Gingrich’s Anti-Semitic Dog Whistle: Saul Alinsky

When Newt Gingrich is called out for using the phrase “food stamp president,” he fiercely defends the idea that he is simply pointing out the obvious: that under Obama more people signed up for food stamps. Simple as that. He is not gently plucking racist tropes for the benefit of his base, but just telling it like it is. The man has plausible deniability. He can wink and then say he was just blinking.

So I’m sure that will be the case when I bring up Gingrich’s fondness for mentioning a certain Saul Alinsky. The former speaker is just stating a fact.

And boy does he bring Alinsky up. I’ve heard Alinsky’s name mentioned by Gingrich in a handful of debates, usually by way of characterizing the president, as in Obama is a “Saul Alinsky radical” or “the centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky.” But what really struck me was the number of times Gingrich brought up Alinsky in his victory speech when he won the South Carolina primary: three.

Now if you aren’t in that subsection of the “east coast liberal elite” that is closely following every twist and turn of this primary season, you might be asking yourself at this point, “Who the hell is Saul Alinsky?”

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Jan 27, 2012, 04:28 AM (13 replies)

Their Denial and Our Silence Mock International Holocaust Memorial Day

Jan. 27, the anniversary of the day Soviet soldiers liberated the Auschwitz death camp in 1945, is the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The United Nations, which will convene a solemn ceremony at its world headquarters, features online this statement by Holocaust survivor Nechama Tec: "The Holocaust teaches us that no matter how oppressive life is, some people are able to rise above the cruelty of their times by extending helping hands to one another. It is this ability to risk one's life on behalf of others which ought to give us hope."

But if the grandchildren of the victims of Hitler's Final Solution are to have hope for the future, they'll need the international community to go beyond annual moments of silence by beginning to speak out against mainstream global anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. Here are a few examples U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon should consider for his speech:


While international action is belatedly underway to head off Iran's nuclear ambitions, no government or NGO has tried to bring the regime to The Hague for it's state-sponsored Holocaust denial and pre-genocidal anti-Jewish and anti-Judaic rants. The insidiousness of the recent TV show "Saturday Hunter," starring loathsome religious Jews, would have made Hitler weep tears of joy. Also available are a series of animated cartoons mocking the 6 million victims of the Holocaust, which until last week were available on YouTube.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Jan 27, 2012, 04:25 AM (0 replies)

History: Political antisemitism in the United States, 1873-1932

Introduction: Over the past months I have described the development of anti-Judaism in Christian theology and its transformation into secular antisemitism with the 18th century Enlightenment. In the 19th century secular antisemitism quickly evolved into a political movement with an agenda aimed at excluding Jews from civil society and antisemitic parties appeared throughout the West. In Germany-Austria the political agenda changed from social exclusion to physical extermination with the goal of achieving a final solution to the West’s Jewish Problem. This week we turn to the evolution of political antisemitism in the country with the largest surviving post-Holocaust Jewish Diaspora population, the United States.

As in Europe, organized political antisemitism also appeared in the United States in the 19th century. And, as in Europe, a movement to deny Jews legal and social rights did not just appear: it emerged from an already present antisemitic culture.

The first Jews to set foot in the New World arrived with Christopher Columbus in 1492. In 1584 Joachim Gaunse, a Jewish metallurgist who accompanied Sir Walter Raleigh to the Virginia territory, was threatened with blasphemy and forced to return to England. “In 1647, the Portuguese authorities arrested Isaac de Castro for teaching Jewish rites and customs in Portuguese controlled Brazil and sent him back to Portugal where the Inquisition sentenced him to death and burned him at the stake.” Seven years later twenty-three Jewish refugees fled Portuguese Brazil for the more tolerant Dutch New Amsterdam (later renamed New York under the British) where they were barred entry by the colony’s Director General, Peter Stuyvesant. “The Jews who have arrived,” he wrote the directors of the Dutch West India Company, “would nearly all like to remain here, but learning that they (with their customary usury and deceitful trading with Christians)… [we ask that] that the deceitful race -- such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ -- be not allowed to further infect and trouble this new colony…” The Company apparently felt the Jew’s “customary usury and deceitful trading” would be of value and ordered Stuyvesant to let them stay. As for French colonial areas, the Jews were barred until 1759; and the Spanish, like the Portuguese, planted the Inquisition in the New World and persecuted and executed their “suspect” Conversos, Catholics of Jewish descent.

While the 1789 US Constitution, following Enlightenment principles, protected citizen rights regardless of religion, the first acts of “political” antisemitism came in the form of “states rights,” which allowed states to make local laws, including a state’s relations with Jews. Anti-Jewish legislation would only be rescinded in North Carolina in 1869, while New Hampshire finally relented and allowed “non-Protestants” to hold state office in 1887. Sabbath laws, forbidding commerce on Sunday, was another form of legal antisemitism. Such discriminatory laws remained on the books well into the twentieth century. Their antisemitic intent was clearly described when, “in the 1855 California assembly debate on the topic, the speaker of the house argued that Jews ‘ought to respect the laws and opinions of the majority.’”


Posted by Behind the Aegis | Mon Dec 19, 2011, 06:18 AM (3 replies)

Gay films thrive in Tel Aviv

Aside from being the epicenter of the Israel film industry, Tel Aviv is quickly earning a reputation as the hottest gay destination in the Middle East. Or, as screenwriter, producer and journalist Gal Uchovsky says, "It's good to be gay in Israel."

In some Middle East countries, being gay is cause for punishment, including a death penalty. However, Israel's right-wing, conservative government is putting a great deal of resources into promoting the country as a place that accepts and welcomes homosexuals.

Tel Aviv, where 70,000 marched in this year's Gay Pride parade, has long been a place where attitudes and dress codes are laid back and gay clubs are a prominent component of the city's thriving nightlife.

So confident is Tel Aviv's tourism association in the city's appeal to the gay community that it recently launched a massive branding campaign, dubbed Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, hoping to entice gay and lesbian visitors from all over the world.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Mon Dec 19, 2011, 04:18 AM (0 replies)
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